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Saudi royals tackling corruption, or just cashing in on foes?

13 March 2018

While London is preferred over NY, the requirement by both for greater disclosure of sensitive information on Aramco than the Hong Kong exchange is viewed as a drawback by some Saudi officials and advisers, the sources said.

The chances of Saudi Arabia choosing either London or NY as the destination for a massive stock market listing of oil giant Saudi Aramco, may be fading.

But Saudi and Aramco officials, as well as their legions of advisers, have had to grapple with a host of issues.

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The delay, reported by the Financial Times, comes days after Amin Nasser, the CEO of the state-backed company, which is the world's largest oil producer, said the IPO was " progressing very well". Saudi officials have not-so-privately indicated that they hoped the company would be valued at some $2 trillion.

The two leaders also discussed how to enhance and strengthen cooperation between their countries, and the Iraqi-Saudi Joint Coordination Council, a body created last October to improve strategic relations and help rebuild devastated areas retaken from militants in Iraq.

But its finances have not been transparent, and both the American and London stock exchanges require both transparency and the protection of public shareholders.

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How a listing would be structured also remains under discussion.

In addition, while some Saudi officials - reportedly including Crown Prince Mohammed himself - are said to favor a listing on the NY exchange, others involved in the process have said that a presence in the United States could expose the kingdom to lawsuits.

Saudi Aramco had planned to begin trading on the country's domestic stock market - the Tadawul - and one or more foreign exchanges in the second half of 2018. Aramco could also sell shares in China in a private placement. Princes who led military forces and appeared in glossy magazines are monitored by guards they do not command.

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Saudi Public Prosecutor Sheikh Saud al-Moajab said the new anti-corruption prosecutorial units were created "within the framework of King Salman's keenness to combat corruption in all its forms", and will be supported with a conference of local and foreign experts in April focusing on "the protection of integrity and fighting corruption in privatization programs".

Saudi royals tackling corruption, or just cashing in on foes?