Aramco IPO will come soon, Saudi crown prince to decide - energy min

Credit: REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

By Rania El Gamal and David Lawder

RIYADH, Oct 30 (Reuters) - The initial public offering (IPO) for state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco will come soon, and will be a decision taken by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's energy minister said on Wednesday.

Aramco aims to announce the start of its IPO on Nov. 3, three people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Tuesday, after delaying the deal earlier this month to give advisers time to secure cornerstone investors.

"It is going to come soon ... but it will come at the right time with the right approach and definitely with the right decision," the minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, said in a speech at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh.

"And it will be a Saudi decision first and foremost," he said. "Specifically, Prince Mohammed's decision."

The prospect of Aramco selling a piece of itself has had Wall Street on tenterhooks since Prince Mohammed first flagged it three years ago.

Aramco is looking to float a 1% to 2% stake on the kingdom’s Tadawul market, in what would be one of the largest ever public offerings, worth upwards of $20 billion.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday Aramco's IPO would be a "great opportunity" for developing Saudi Arabia's capital markets.

In addition to Aramco, the Saudi market expects the entry of Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Group, one of the biggest hospital operators in the Middle East, and Saudi retailer BinDawood Group, two companies that are gearing up to go public.

(Reporting by Rania El Gamal; Writing by Nafisa Eltahir and Hadeel Al Sayegh; Editing by Dale Hudson and Christian Schmollinger)

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