The massive Saudi Aramco IPO remains murky — but details could be on the way

Saudi Arabia could use an upcoming conference by sovereign wealth fund the Public Investment Fund to shed more light on the matter, said Ayham Kamel, head of Middle East and North Africa practice at political consultancy Eurasia Group.

“Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will address the Future Investment Summit organized in Riyadh this month and could use the occasion to elaborate on the government’s plans,” he wrote in a recent note.

The summit, which runs from Oct. 24 to Oct. 26, is expected to draw several global business leaders and asset managers such as BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son.

Rumors circulated last week that the Kingdom, led by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince bin Salman, could scrap plans for a 2018 international listing and opt for a private share placement instead, according to last week’s Financial Times report. Khalid Al-Falih, the country’s energy minister and Aramco’s chairman, has dismissed those claims, telling CNBC that progress was being made for the firm’s international debut.

But some strategists still remain skeptical.

“One thing I’m very confident of is that [officials] don’t know what they’re going to do yet,” said Kamran Bokhari, a senior analyst with intelligence firm Geopolitical Futures as well as a senior fellow at the Center for Global Policy. “To me, it sounds like they don’t have their house in order.”

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