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Aramco Chairman Says Attacks Won't Derail IPO Preparations

Anthony DiPaola

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco’s chairman said the drone strike on the kingdom’s main crude-processing plant won’t slow preparations for an initial public offering of the state-owned oil giant.

Saudi Arabia is committed to the IPO, Yasir Al-Rumayyan said on Tuesday at a press conference in Jeddah. He refused to commit to a precise timetable, however, saying the company is ready to do it any time in the next 12 months.

Speaking at the same press conference, the first time the company’s leadership has spoken since the assault, Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said all contracted supplies to customers would be met, so there’d be no impact on the company’s financial performance.

Al-Rumayyan, who is also head of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, was appointed Aramco chairman at start of this month as the kingdom accelerated plans for the share sale. But the attack knocked out half of Aramco’s oil-supply capacity, leading to questions about whether the share sale could proceed.

Saudi Arabia is planning to sell shares in Riyadh as early as November, drawing on support from the kingdom’s richest family to anchor the deal, people have said. An international listing may follow later. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has made the IPO a key part of his program of economic reform, seeking a valuation of $2 trillion for the world’s largest oil producer.

Just two days before the drone strike, dozens of recently mandated bankers from Citigroup Inc. to JPMorgan Chase & Co. descended on the heart of Dubai’s financial district for a meeting to kick off IPO preparations.

The on-again-off-again plans for an Aramco listing had been put on hold as the firm focused on a $69 billion deal for a majority stake in petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries Corp. When the preparations were revived this year, many of the banks that won roles initially had to start over, leading some to wonder whether it was worth the effort.

Aramco picked Bank of America Corp., Citigroup, Credit Suisse Group AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley for top underwriting roles on the deal. Lazard Ltd. and Moelis & Co. are also advising Aramco, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony DiPaola in Dubai at adipaola@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net, Simon Casey

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