Saudi Aramco IPO plans slowed over where to list – London or New York?

Logo of Saudi Aramco is seen at the 20th Middle East Oil & Gas Show and Conference (MOES 2017) in Manama, Bahrain, March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
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A divide between Saudi Arabia’s ruling family and executives of the kingdom’s oil company over where to list the company’s shares is slowing the march toward a planned 2018 initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.

Executives at Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known as Saudi Aramco, are pushing Saudi Arabia’s king and his son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, on the merits of listing the state-owned oil company on the London Stock Exchange. Executives believe that listing in the U.S. would expose the company to greater legal risks, including from potential class-action shareholder lawsuits, according to these people.

But the Saudi Arabian royal court favors the New York Stock Exchange, according to the people familiar with the matter, in part because of the kingdom’s longstanding political ties to the U.S., and because the U.S. market represents the deepest pool of capital in the world.

A listing in New York, along with one on Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul exchange, has long been the favored listing option for Prince Mohammed, who is driving the IPO as part of a broader push to overhaul and diversify the country’s economy.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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