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Saudi Aramco IPO to come at ‘right time’ and when Crown Prince decides

Saudi Aramco IPO to come at ‘right time’ and when Crown Prince decides

The initial public offering will happen soon, says energy minister

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will determine the timing of oil giant Saudi Aramco’s long-anticipated share sale, according to the kingdom’s energy minister.
The initial public offering will happen soon and at the “right time,” Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, said Wednesday in a speech in Riyadh. The timing “will be a Saudi decision, first and foremost,” the energy minister said.

He began his speech by saying he wouldn’t discuss the planned IPO, and he didn’t elaborate on his limited remarks about the share sale, which is set to be the world’s largest.

Saudi Arabia is seeking to conclude the IPO by the end of the year. Crown Prince Mohammed is counting on Aramco’s profit and the nation’s vast oil reserves to attract investors to the share sale, which in turn will help fund his plan to overhaul the Saudi economy and make it less reliant on crude exports.

Saudi Aramco earned $68bn in the first nine months of the year, cementing its position as the world’s most profitable company, according to people familiar with the figures. Even so, the Saudis have struggled to persuade investors to accept their valuation of $2 trillion or more.

The IPO process will begin on Sunday, and shares of Aramco will start trading on the Saudi stock exchange on Dec. 11, Saudi television news channel Al Arabiya reported Tuesday. The company has pledged to pay a dividend of at least $75bn next year.

Saudi Arabia is trying to become more efficient in its use of energy, Prince Abdulaziz said. The government has revised projections of Saudi energy demand and now expects domestic price reforms to temper local consumption.

“The kingdom has taken bold steps in energy price reforms starting in 2016 by changing prices of all key energy products,” he said. “We believe that these efforts combined will reduce Saudi Arabia’s local demand by as much as 2 million barrels of oil equivalent by 2030 compared to the previous projections.”

Saudi Arabia is developing technologies to capture and store carbon dioxide as part of a “circular” approach to limiting emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, he said. It’s also pushing into renewables, notably solar power, and is well endowed with minerals that could help improve batteries that store energy produced from the sun.

“As we’ve always been the most reliable supplier of oil, we will be the most reliable supplier of solar energy,” he said. “We could be the most reliable supplier of materials that could be used for lithium, so we’re going to be in the news for quite some time.”

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