Oil giant Saudi Aramco is prepared for an initial public offering, its chief financial officer said Monday, reviving the prospects for a long-awaited listing that could be a major step toward diversifying Saudi Arabia’s economy.
The state-owned company has been moving toward greater financial transparency as it courts international investors, and the suggestion that it was ready for a public offering came during its first earnings call. The company, the world’s largest oil producer, said earlier in the day that it had generated net income of $46.9 billion in the first half of the year.
Khalid al-Dabbagh, Saudi Aramco’s senior vice president for finance, strategy and development, said the timing of a public offering would be up to the “shareholder” — the Saudi government — and offered scant insight into when such a listing would happen.
“The company is ready for the IPO,” al-Dabbagh told analysts, adding that Saudi officials would “announce it depending on their perception of what will be the optimum market conditions.”
He also discussed a newly signed memorandum of agreement with Reliance Industries of India, saying that it would enable Aramco to examine Reliance’s books and that a potential deal between the two companies was “at the very, very early stages.”
“India is a large country with large demand, and it’s a growing demand,” al-Dabbagh added.
Reliance announced earlier in the day that Aramco was set to buy a 20% stake in its refining and petrochemical business. The stake in Reliance, estimated to be worth $15 billion, would create a partnership between the Saudi kingdom and India’s powerful Ambani family.
Al-Dabbagh’s comments about the IPO appeared to confirm that Saudi leaders are eager to move ahead, although key…