May's Pitch for Aramco Listing Dominated Post-Brexit Saudi Trip

  • London Stock Exchange CEO joined May in Saudi to woo officials
  • Aramco is considering listing venues in the U.S., U.K., Asia

NBAD's Yasin Says Low Aramco Valuations May Delay IPO

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May headed to Saudi Arabia with this clear goal: convince Saudi Aramco to pick London for its initial public offering as she seeks to promote Britain as a financial center after Brexit.

May met Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih, who also heads state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co., according to a U.K. government official, who asked not to be named. London Stock Exchange Group Plc Chief Executive Officer Xavier Rolet was also present at the meeting on Tuesday.

Rolet, left, meets with May and King Salman on April 5.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Aramco is looking at the U.S., U.K. and Asia, in addition to Riyadh, as possible listing venues, people familiar with the plans said in February. The sale could value Aramco at more than $2 trillion, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said, even as analysts calculate it could be much lower.

An Aramco listing would be a boost to London, helping politicians make the case that the U.K. is open for business and remains a financial hub even as it leaves the European Union -- and its single market. In her discussions in the Middle East, May spoke of the U.K.’s depth of expertise in financial services and the supporting ecosystem of accounting and legal services, the U.K. official said. The prime minister also pitched Britain’s investment opportunities.

LSE CEO Rolet was by May’s side for much of the trip and was one of the first people to greet her off the plane when she landed in Riyadh. After the Aramco meeting, he sat next to her at a round-table gathering of two dozen finance executives. May and Rolet also met with the Saudi Public Investment Fund on Wednesday, according to the U.K. government official.

Later in the day, Rolet reappeared at King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s palace. He was the first person May introduced to the monarch.

It did not end there.

Rolet came back to the airbase to see the prime minister’s plane off, chatting on the red carpet with Saudi officials as May got on board.

— With assistance by John Detrixhe

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