Saudi oil giant Aramco has confirmed it is planning to list on the Riyadh stock exchange, in what could be the world’s biggest IPO.
The state-owned company will determine the IPO launch price after registering interest from investors.
According to business sources, the Saudis are expected to make shares available for 1% or 2% of the firm, and the offer will be for existing company shares.
The Saudi Arabian Oil Company is thought to be worth about $1.2 trillion.
Saudi Aramco said it has no current plans for a foreign share listing, saying long-discussed plans for a two-stage IPO including an offering on a foreign exchange had been put aside for now.
Aramco chair Yasir al-Rumayyan told a media conference: “For the (international) listing part, we will let you know in due course. So far it’s only on Tadawul.”
Potential risks were highlighted in September when drone attacks hit the Abqaiq oil facility and the Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia, both owned by Aramco.
However, Aramco boss Amin Nasser, who called the plans “historic”, told a media conference after the IPO statement was published that the firm was still the most reliable oil company globally.
In its launch announcement Aramco said: “The company does not expect the impact of these attacks to have a material impact on its business, financial condition or results of operations.”
Aramco traces its roots to 1933 when a deal was struck between Saudi Arabia and the Standard Oil Company of California, which later became Chevron, to survey and drill for oil, creating a new company to do so.
Between 1973 and 1980, Saudi Arabia bought the whole company.
Saudi Arabia has the second-biggest oil reserves after Venezuela. It is also second in production, after the US. But it gets its prominence because it has the monopoly on all that oil in the country, and because of how cheap it is to extract.
Saudi Aramco is worth $1.2 trillion, according to analysis from financial news service Bloomberg, although Riyadh would prefer a valuation of $2 trillion, which is one reason the company’s share sale has been delayed a number of times.