One of the big questions global investors are focused on when it comes to Saudi Arabia is when, and whether at all, it will take its national oil company, Saudi Aramco, private.
The idea to privatize the company came in early 2015, a time when global oil prices had hit a historic low of around $26 a barrel. Now, global oil prices are around $80 a barrel, somewhat disincentivizing the privatization.
Speculation and possible dates of an initial public offering (IPO), when the company will be listed on a stock exchange (both in Saudi and abroad), have come and gone, leading many to wonder whether the listing will happen at all.
On Monday, Saudi Aramco's CEO Amin Nasser told CNBC he could not say whether the oil giant would make its long-anticipated stock market debut by 2020.
Arbid agreed that the possible date of Saudi Aramco's IPO "does seem to be in limbo," but said there are good reasons to delay the launch.
"If you look at things that have happened since that announcement (of an IPO)… oil prices today are in the eighties (of dollars per barrel) whereas a few years ago it was almost $30 oil, $25 oil — and now we're in the eighties. So, you have this changing oil price which is extremely important for the Aramco IPO and the longer you wait the better off you are as you'll have anchored $75-$80 oil."
Arbid said Saudi Arabia's recent inclusion on to the MSCI is also a big event for Aramco. "MSCI is a 2019 event and you would want Aramco (IPO) to happen after MSCI because that would create a lot of (capital) flows into Aramco and into Saudi." As such, he believed the delay to the Saudi Aramco sale could be perceived as a good thing.