This post has been updated
Saudi Arabia has reportedly cancelled plans to publicly list the state’s oil giant, Aramco, in what could have been the largest IPO in history.
Senior industry sources told Reuters that the group of financial advisors behind the deal have been disbanded, and the decision was actually made “some time ago” and kept under wraps.
Saudi energy minister and Aramco chairman Khalid al-Falih said in a statement: “The Government remains committed to the IPO of Saudi Aramco at a time of its own choosing when conditions are optimum.”
News of the massive public listing first surfaced when crown prince Muhammad bin Salman told The Economist that Riyadh was considering listing Aramco in an attempt to lessen the country’s reliance on oil. If Salman’s plan to sell 5% of the company’s shares at a $2 trillion valuation had succeeded, Aramco would have become the biggest publicly traded company in the world.
But despite the growing hype around the IPO—New York and London were competing to have Aramco listed on its stock markets—the flotation has long been in doubt. Bloomberg reported earlier this year that the deal was in trouble, citing “hubris on the valuation, an overambitious timetable, and indifference—if not derision—from global investors.” Last month, a senior executive at Aramco told the Wall Street Journal that “everyone is almost certain it is not going to happen.”