(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s crown prince insisted the stalled plan to sell shares in oil giant Aramco will go ahead, promising an initial public offering by 2021 and sticking to his ambitious view the state-run company is worth $2 trillion or more, Bloomberg reported on Friday.
“I believe late 2020, early 2021,” he said, discussing the timing of the IPO in an interview with Bloomberg at the royal palace in Riyadh. “The investor will decide the price on the day. I believe it will be above $2 trillion. Because it will be huge.”
Aramco declined to comment.
For the past two years, Saudi Arabia has prepared to place up to 5 percent of its national oil company on the stock market. Officials talked up the Saudi Aramco initial public offering (IPO) with international exchanges, global banks and U.S. President Donald Trump.
The planned listing of the world’s biggest oil producer was to be the cornerstone of the kingdom’s promised economic overhaul and, at a targeted $100 billion, the biggest IPO ever.
It was the brainchild of 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, heir apparent of the world’s largest oil exporter.
After months of setbacks, the international and domestic legs of the IPO were pulled, as the prince’s father King Salman stepped in to shelve it, three sources with ties to government insiders told Reuters in late August.
Prince Mohammed said in the Bloomberg interview that the Saudi government will keep the shares of Aramco after the IPO, rather than transfer them into the sovereign wealth fund as originally planned.
Instead, the public investment fund (PIF) will receive the $70 billion from the sale of its stake in Sabic, plus the $100 billion that country hopes to raise from the Aramco IPO, the report said.
Prince Mohammed provided a detailed timetable of his plans for Aramco, saying that after the deal with local petrochemical giant Sabic is completed in 2019, the company would need a full financial year before it can go ahead and sell shares to the public, the report said.
Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru