Shares in Saudi state oil giant Aramco will start trading on the Middle Eastern country’s stock exchange on Dec. 11, television news channel Al Arabiya reported, without identifying the source for the information.
Saudi Arabia’s Capital Markets Authority will announce the start of the initial public offering process on Sunday, Al Arabiya reported. Subscription for shares will start Dec. 4, the Saudi broadcaster said. Reuters also reported the company is working toward an announcement on Sunday.
Saudi Aramco “does not comment on rumor or speculation,” the company’s media office said in an emailed response to a request for comment on the timing of the IPO process. “The company continues to engage with the shareholders on IPO readiness activities. The company is ready and timing will depend on market conditions and be at a time of the shareholder’s choosing.”
Aramco’s $111 billion annual net income for 2018 made it the most profitable business on the planet. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is counting on those earnings and Saudi Arabia’s vast oil reserves — the world’s biggest deposits of conventional crude — to attract investors. The kingdom is seeking funds to build job-generating industries that it hopes will help wean the economy off its overwhelming reliance on crude sales.
The government has struggled to persuade investors to accept its estimated $2 trillion valuation for the company, contributing to delays in the initial public offering. Saudi Arabian Oil Co., as the producer is officially known, postponed the planned IPO most recently earlier this month, in the wake of the Sept. 14 attacks on its Abqaiq and Khurais crude-processing facilities.
Production has since recovered from those attacks, which briefly slashed Aramco’s output by half. Aramco says it relied on crude in storage and swapped between different grades to honour all of its commitments to customers.