Brexit controversy and civil unrest are believed to be key factors in Saudi Aramco’s reported preference to take its initial public offer to Japan.
London and Hong Kong were seen as front-runners among the possible destinations for the world’s most profitable company as it seeks to partially float its equity on a globally recognised stock exchange.
Boris Johnson’s march towards 'no-deal' and Brexit's broader political and economic risks have evidently ruled out London.
Hong Kong’s civil unrest appears to have rendered it unattractive to Saudi officials who appear keen to promote a positive image through targeted promotional activity including international sporting events (such as Anthony Joshua’s upcoming ‘Clash on the Dunes’ boxing match) and high profile concerts.
A New York listing meanwhile appears less likely despite Donald Trump’s past attempts to appeal to Riyadh.
Would very much appreciate Saudi Arabia doing their IPO of Aramco with the New York Stock Exchange. Important to the United States!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2017
Media reports have suggested that despite its apparent strong ties to Trump, Aramco has been evaluating broader risks of listing in the United States, with the possibility for shareholder-linked protest around environmentalism cited as a concern.
With Tokyo presently seen as leading the race, it is anticipated that Aramco will shortly proceed with a phased floatation with an initial allocation of public shares in Riyadh later this year ahead of the international listing either next year or the year after.
Market commentators suggest Aramco will aim to sell some 5% of its equity for around US$100bn.
Responding to media reports, the Saudi Arabia oiler said that no final decision has yet been made.