Ahead of Saudi Aramco IPO, Nasdaq CEO says massive companies could benefit from dual-listing

  • State oil giant Saudi Aramco is expected to launch its initial public offering (IPO) in the second half of 2018.
  • "Companies want to be part of the future, they don't necessarily want to be part of the past… We are extremely proud of all the companies that choose to come to Nasdaq but we don't comment on any specific issuer," Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman said Monday.
  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is believed to favor listing Saudi Aramco in New York, while officials, including Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, have reportedly said London could be a better fit. Hong Kong is also in contention.

Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman said Monday that there is a case for companies on course to deliver a significant amount of liquidity to consider a dual-listing.

State oil giant Saudi Aramco is expected to launch its initial public offering (IPO) in the second half of 2018. The planned floatation has left a flurry of global stock exchanges competing to host the world's largest oil producer — with the listing poised to become the largest in history.

Speaking to CNBC at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Friedman said a company looking at the prospect of dual-listing across different time zones would usually be able to benefit from "liquidity pools" as people wake up in different parts of the world.

And when asked whether investors could expect to see Saudi Aramco list on the Nasdaq later this year, she replied: "Companies want to be part of the future, they don't necessarily want to be part of the past… We are extremely proud of all the companies that choose to come to Nasdaq but we don't comment on any specific issuer."

New York, London or Hong Kong

Saudi officials claim preparatory work regarding the IPO has been completed but some key issues — such as where to list — rest with the government.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is believed to favor listing Saudi Aramco in New York, while officials, including Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, have reportedly said London could be a better fit. Hong Kong is also in contention.

Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Another option is a Saudi listing alongside an international exchange. A domestic listing and a private sale to a strategic investor — possibly from Beijing — is a third possibility.

Indecision at the highest levels of Saudi Arabia's government is reportedly playing a major role in holding up the planned flotation of the world's largest oil producer.

Saudi Aramco, currently a private company owned by the government in Riyadh, is aiming for an IPO that could raise about $100 billion and attract a valuation in the range of $1 trillion to $2 trillion later this year. But the process has dragged on as key aspects of the share sale remain unsettled.