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Trump hopes float of Aramco will take place in New York

  •  5 per cent of Aramco to sell next year at £85 billion
  • President Trump says on Twitter that he would appreciate the float taking place in New York
  •  Aramco is valued at $2 trillion by its bossess

 US President Donald Trump has made a public pitch for Saudi Arabia’s national oil firm Aramco as it looks to float on either the New York or London stock exchanges.

Turning the fight for one of the world’s most valuable firms – valued by bosses at $2trillion – into a major political battle, Trump appealed on Twitter for it to choose the US and claimed he has discussed the matter with the Gulf state’s king.

London and New York have been hoping to get a slice of Aramco, with Prime Minister Theresa May and LSE chief executive Xavier Rolet visiting the kingdom in June and the Financial Conduct Authority bending over backwards to bring it here. But it has been opposed by some investors in London, partly due to the low stake on offer – potentially just 5 per cent – when firms seeking a ‘premium’ listing are required to float at least 25 per cent.

Trump is encouraging Aramco’s float to take place in New York

The president’s intervention threatens to increase pressure on Riyadh, which is keen to improve relations in the US and could be swayed by his description of the listing as a priority for Washington.

Writing on Twitter, Trump said: ‘Would very much appreciate Saudi Arabia doing their IPO of Aramco with the New York Stock Exchange. Important to the United States!’ He later told reporters: ‘I know they’re looking at London, I know they’re looking at others. So I would like them to consider the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq. I just spoke to the king a little while ago, and they will consider it.’

The Saudi government is trying to raise money due to low oil prices and is planning to sell about 5 per cent of Aramco next year – potentially raising about £85 billion in what would be the world’s largest initial public offering.

The FCA was heavily criticised in July when it proposed a new category for sovereign-controlled firms that would allow Aramco to circumvent the 25 per cent requirements. Last week, FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey admitted he had met with the oil giant’s chief financial officer in January.

At present, firms that do not meet the premium requirements must take a standard listing, which has lower corporate governance requirements and does not qualify for entry into most stock indices.

Trump did not say why he raised the issue at this time or whether he was responding to any information about the NYSE’s bid.

However, some recent reports – denied by Aramco – have suggested it will drop the foreign listing altogether in favour of a private sale and domestic listing.

The company told the Financial Times yesterday: ‘A range of options for the public listing of Saudi Aramco continue to be held under active review.’