The initial public offering of Saudi Aramco will be “most likely” happen in 2019, the kingdom’s oil minister said on Friday, confirming a delay into next year for what’s likely to be the world’s largest ever share sale.
“We’re simply waiting for a market readiness for the IPO,” Khalid Al-Falih, who’s also the company’s chairman, said at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia on Friday.
For almost two years, Saudi officials said repeatedly the IPO was “on track, on time” for the second half of 2018. But for the first time in March they suggested it could be delayed until 2019, pushing back a central plank of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to modernize the economy.
The Aramco IPO would be a once-in-a-generation event for financial markets. Saudi officials said they hope to raise a record $100 billion by selling a 5 percent stake, valuing the company at more than $2 trillion and dwarfing the $25 billion raised by Chinese retailer Alibaba Group Holding in 2014.
Others have poured cold water on the valuation, suggesting a figure much closer to $1 trillion, basing their calculations in part on the first set of accounts on the company revealed earlier this year by Bloomberg News.