Saudi Aramco has just got a high-profile pitch for its upcoming initial public offering. It came from the U.S. president himself.
The world’s largest oil company will debut its shares on the Saudi domestic market, called the Tadawul, but it is also expected to list on at least one foreign exchange in the second half of next year. Its decision, which it has yet to announce, is being closely watched.
On Saturday, President Donald Trump specifically requested the company opt for the New York Stock Exchange, tweeting that the IPO would be “important” to the U.S. Trump is currently in Hawaii ahead of a 13-day tour through Asia.
The Big Board is the world’s largest equity market trading companies with a combined market capitalization of $21.3 trillion as of June and is seen as an enduring symbol of American capitalism.
Where Saudi Aramco lists also carries weighty regulatory implications for the company, as listing on a U.S. or European exchange comes with financial disclosure requirements, as well as Western-style corporate governance and transparency expectations.
The Trump administration has been engaged in an aggressive courtship of Saudi Arabia, in part as a check against the ambitions of Iran. In May, as part of Trump’s maiden trip abroad, the U.S. inked a $350 billion arms deal with the nation, in a move that solidified an alliance marred by controversy over the years.
Saudi Aramco’s offering is likely to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, in history. Depending on who’s being asked, the company’s valuation is pegged at somewhere north of $1 trillion. Recently, the company has appointed JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and HSBC to assist with its mammoth IPO next year.
Last month, Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told CNBC the plan to take a portion of the state-owned oil giant’s business public next year remained on track, but was cagey about its choice of an international listing venue.
In that interview, Nasser said that the Saudis “enjoyed” Trump’s trip to the kingdom, calling it “a very successful visit… [that] gained a lot of support here in terms of strengthening relations and collaboration between Saudi Arabia and the U.S.”
Spokespeople for both Saudi Aramco and the NYSE declined to comment on Saturday.