Tadawul `taking all measures' for successful Aramco listing

"We are ready to host such a unique IPO," says bourse chief executive

FILE PHOTO: Khalid al-Hussan, Chief Executive Officer of the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) attends the Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference 2017 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser /File Photo
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Saudi Arabia’s stock market is pulling out all the stops for what could be the world’s largest initial public offering.

The exchange, known as Tadawul, is prepared for Saudi Aramco’s share sale regardless of the structure that the company decides to use for the listing, chief executive Khalid Al Hussan said in an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday.

“Tadawul will be the home exchange for Aramco, and, if there is another exchange, the decision will be coming from the issuer in due course,” Al Hussan said. The bourse is “taking all measures to ensure Aramco comes successfully to the market,” he said.

The IPO of the world’s largest oil exporter has drawn interest from international stock exchanges in New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Toronto and even spurred US President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May to lobby for the listing. Saudi Arabia, which values Aramco at US$2 trillion, is seeking to sell state assets as part of a plan to wean the economy off oil and create the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund.

“I can comfortably say we are ready to host such a unique IPO,” Al Hussan said.

The listing has also seen intense competition by banks from New York to Tokyo for a role on the deal. Aramco is set to appoint lenders including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, HSBC Holdings, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley to help manage the sale, people familiar said this month.

Mr Al Hussan told The National in October the bourse was "creating the right incentives for private and government sector companies to go public."

Aside from preparing for Aramco’s debut, Tadawul is also planning its own IPO later this year after hiring HSBC’s Saudi unit to advise on the listing in 2016. Work is “progressing as planned,” Al Hussan told Bloomberg.

There were 16 IPOs in Saudi Arabia in 2017 that raised about $722 million, exceeding the $274m a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. There should be more listings this year across the main market, the small-cap market, and by Real Estate Investment Trusts, he said.