Aramco's Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Ras Tanura
Pipes containing oil stand at the North Pier terminal of Aramco's Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia . Image Credit: Bloomberg

Riyadh: Saudi Aramco is pushing to complete its initial public offering this year and is considering making a formal announcement as soon as the next few weeks, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The kickoff, originally scheduled for October 20, was delayed after Aramco got mixed feedback from international investors.

Aramco plans to press on with the listing plans by relying more on investors from Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East to buy its shares, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Some domestic funds have been invited to a meeting at Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran on Wednesday to discuss the IPO and may be asked for commitments shortly afterward, the people said.

While Aramco may need to reduce its valuation expectations below the initial $2 trillion target, local institutions are seen as less sensitive to the pricing, one of the people said.

Aramco hasn’t finalised a new timetable, and the schedule for the share sale could still be pushed back again, according to the people. The process has been rocky from the start, with Saudi Arabia initially announcing the IPO project in 2016.

Plans were revived early this year before facing a setback after an attack last month on the company’s biggest processing plant. Whether Aramco can still succeed in listing this year will depend on whether it can drum up enough demand from Saudi investors as well as the regional funds it’s been approaching.

An imminent announcement could give Saudi Arabia some good news as it prepares for the October 29 start of its annual Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh. The three-day event, known as “Davos in the Desert,” is set to attract some of Wall Street’s top dealmakers as well as representatives from major institutional investors across the globe.

Aramco didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement last week, the company said the timing of the IPO will depend on market conditions.