Saudi Crown Prince Says Aramco IPO May Be 2019, Reuters Reports

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(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the initial public offering of state oil company Aramco could be delayed until early 2019, pushing back a central plank of his plan to modernize the country’s economy.

The sale of a 5 percent stake in the company could take place at the end of 2018 or early 2019, depending on market conditions, Prince Mohammed told Reuters in an interview.

Until recently, Saudi officials insisted the IPO was “on track, on time” for 2018, but three months into the year that deadline is looking harder to meet. The comments echo what Saudi officials have hinted for the past few weeks. Khalid Al-Falih, the country’s energy minister, already pointed to a delay earlier this month.

“Between December 31st and January 1st, there is no value lost for the kingdom,” Al-Falih told Bloomberg TV in an interview on March 8. “So, I don’t see this artificial deadline that you refer to as being significant.”

Bin Salman also told Reuters that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was seeking a longer-term alliance with Russia to help manage oil supplies, following a more than yearlong pact to eliminate a surplus. The exporter group is seeking an accord that could last 10 or 20 years, bin Salman said.

It’s already known that OPEC is working with Russia to prolong coordinated output curbs that began in January 2017. “My hope is for it to last forever,” United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei said in an interview with Bloomberg television last month.

Russian Oil Ministry couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

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