Aramco IPO Could Still Be in U.S. as Kingdom Plays Down Riftby
Location of Aramco IPO ‘Work in Progress,’ al-Jubeir says
Kingdom has no plans to reduce U.S. investments: al-Jubeir
Saudi Arabia could still decide to sell shares of oil giant Aramco in New York, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said, even after the U.S. passed a law that allows victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to sue the kingdom.
The kingdom is looking at markets from Hong Kong to New York as possible international venues of what could be one of the biggest share sales in history, al-Jubeir told a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Riyadh on Sunday. The decision is still a “work in progress,” he said.
Saudi authorities plan to sell less than 5 percent in Saudi Arabian Oil Co. by 2018 as part of a plan by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to set up the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund and help reduce the economy’s reliance on hydrocarbons.
In addition to the Sept. 11 law, tensions have arisen over a U.S. decision to block an arms sale to Saudi Arabia because of concerns about rising civilian casualties in the war in Yemen. The kingdom is backing forces of an internationally recognized government against pro-Iranian rebels.
Al-Jubeir dismissed speculation that Saudi Arabia would reduce its U.S. investments. “Saudi Arabia has tremendous investments in the United States and we review those investments on a regular basis,” he said. “There are issues associated with risk, but our objective is to increase those investments, we will not decrease them.”
A former Saudi ambassador to Washington, al-Jubeir said he visited the U.S. recently “to get to know the positions of the new administration” led by President-elect Donald Trump, and to try to persuade Congress to amend the Sept. 11 law, also known as JASTA. The Obama administration vetoed the law but its proponents gathered enough votes to override the presidential action.
“The Obama administration has great concern about the victims and we will continue to find ways to help the victims of 9/11, but we are convinced that JASTA as it was written is a bad law,” Kerry said. “We tried very hard to move on changing it and will continue to do that.”
Kerry said the weapons sale to Saudi Arabia had been delayed, not halted, as was reported last week.
“The procurement process by which weapons sales are made can be much lengthier than I like,” he said. “I think this got more delayed than it should have.”