Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange has started asking banks to bid for a role advising it on an initial public offering earmarked for 2018, three people with knowledge of the matter said, in a sign the government is pressing ahead with plans to sell state-owned assets.

Banks have until about the end of this month to respond to the request for proposals, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. The Tadawul, as the Arab world’s largest bourse is known, said in December that it plans the IPO for 2018.

The country is making plans for the sale even after Saudi Arabian stocks had their worst year in seven in 2015. Investor confidence has been hit by the slump in oil, the kingdom’s main source of revenue, while a slowdown in economic growth is prompting the government to cut spending and reduce subsidies. The nation is also considering an initial public offering of oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co. as part of a broader package of reforms.

The bourse has dropped about 30 percent over the past year and has a market capitalization of $397 billion. It’s owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

Companies trading on the Tadawul All Share Index include Saudi Basic Industries Corp., one of the world’s biggest petrochemicals manufacturers and Kingdom Holding, the investment vehicle of Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal.

Calls and e-mailed requests for comment to the Tadawul weren’t immediately returned.

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