The hotly-awaited stock market debut of Saudi energy giant Aramco will be launched in 2018 if market conditions permit, otherwise in 2019, the kingdom’s finance minister told AFP on Tuesday.
‘If the market is ready in 2018, we will go in 2018. If not, we will wait until 2019,’ Mohammed al-Jadaan told AFP in an interview at a French-Saudi forum in Paris, referring to the planned initial public offering (IPO) of shares in Aramco, tipped to be the world’s biggest.
‘We are not desperate for listing. We will only list when the market is right,’ he said.
Aramco’s CEO Amin Nasser said last month that his company was on track for a 2018 listing, but that the choice of date and venue was a decision for the company’s owner, the Saudi government.
In the interview Tuesday, Jadaan said the government had not yet decided whether to list Aramco on the Saudi exchange alone, on a stock market abroad or seek a dual listing.
He also said that Aramco ‘is ready now’ for its IPO.
‘What is left is are we going to list outside, and if we are going to list outside, where,’ said Jadaan.
Saudi authorities plan to list five percent of Aramco on an as-yet unspecified stock market, but the company has struggled to arrive at a $2 trillion valuation sought by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 
Investors are reportedly sceptical about the lengthy process of placing Aramco on a foreign stock exchange, with New York, London and Hong Kong among the potential sites. 
Nasser, however, said there was ‘a lot of demand for the listing’.
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister has raised concerns that litigation would complicate a listing in New York, although President Donald Trump has publicly lobbied for listing of Aramco in the United States.
The Aramco IPO plan is a pillar of the petro-state’s ‘Vision 2030’ reform programme, which aims to wean the economy off its reliance on oil revenues.
Saudi Arabia, which counted on crude for more than 90 percent of its public revenues, has struggled to bounce back from a 2014 global oil market crash triggered by an output surplus. 
The kingdom this year introduced a value-added tax for the first time in its history, along with new fees on its sizeable expatriate workforce, and it is opening up the ultraconservative country to tourism.