Saudi Aramco says it’s ‘ready’ for IPO as it reports earnings

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…