Saudi Aramco
File photo: A general view shows the Saudi Aramco's (the national oil company) Al-Khurais central oil processing facility in the Saudi Arabian desert, 160 kms east of the capital Riyadh. Image Credit: AFP

Riyadh: Saudi Aramco aims to select underwriters for its initial public offering as soon as this week, as the state energy giant accelerates preparations for the world’s biggest share sale, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Global investment banks are finishing up a week of pitches that started last Tuesday in Dhahran, the eastern Saudi city where Aramco is based, according to the people.

Some firms seeking a role on the deal made presentations in Dubai or London, the people said. Aramco plans to tell banks later this week or early next week whether they got a role on the offering, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Aramco is expected to choose about four or five banks to lead the IPO marketing as joint global coordinators, while a larger number will work on the deal in more junior capacities, the people said. It is considering selling shares on the Saudi stock exchange as soon as late this year or early next year, with a potential international listing at a later date, the people said.

Top officials from the exchanges in London, New York and Hong Kong have been pitching to host the IPO, Bloomberg News has reported.

The oil producer has told Saudi investment banks that it will invite pitches around the end of this month from local underwriters seeking a role on the company’s domestic listing, the people said. A number of options are being considered, and no final decisions have been made on the structure of the deal, according to the people.

Aramco, officially known as Saudi Arabian Oil Co., didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The company recently said it “continues to engage” with its owner on “IPO readiness activities” and is ready for a share sale that will take place “at a time of the shareholder’s choosing.”