Source: Reuters

DUBAI/RIYADH (Reuters) – Oil giant Saudi Aramco’s much-vaunted stock market listing was delayed after deal advisers said they need more time to lock in cornerstone investors, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Source: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

After a false start last year, preparations gathered momentum this summer with approaches to sovereign wealth funds, rich Saudis and large foreign fund managers as potential cornerstone investors only for plans to unravel for a second time.

The world’s biggest oil company had been expected last week to launch the domestic sale of a 1-2% stake, but the signing up of marquee backers has been hampered by continuing valuation concerns exacerbated by recent attacks on Aramco’s Abqaiq and Khurais plants.

Aramco was unable to answer valuation questions fully during initial talks with investors, said one Gulf institutional investor who has been involved in the discussions.

Sovereign funds in the oil-rich Gulf region typically shy away from energy exposure, he added, looking to diversify their investment portfolio.

Two of the sources said that a Saudi government committee overseeing the planned Aramco flotation had therefore recommended to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last Wednesday that the launch of an initial public offering (IPO) scheduled for Oct. 20 be postponed.

The chief of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF, Yasir al-Rumayyan, heads the committee, which includes senior Saudi officials, sources said. He is also the newly appointed chairman of Aramco.

Aramco declined to comment and the Saudi government media office did not respond to a Reuters’ request for comment.

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