Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in London.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman asked the chiefs of some of Britain’s largest banks and a handful of business leaders to attend an impromptu meeting this afternoon in London, people with knowledge of the matter said.
HSBC Holdings Plc Chief Executive Officer John Flint and Standard Chartered Group Plc CEO Bill Winters will be among several executives attending a closed-door meeting at the Saudi Arabian ambassador’s residence in London to discuss topics including financing the future of the world’s largest oil exporter, the people said, declining to be identified.
Flint canceled his appearance at the Saudi-U.K. forum on Thursday so he could attend, three of the people said, as did two senior Saudi government officials who had been scheduled to speak at the event. Standard Chartered declined to comment, while officials representing HSBC and Saudi Arabia didn’t immediately comment.
Saudi Arabia is becoming more attractive to foreign lenders as it overhauls its economy and plans to list Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, in what could be the largest-ever initial public offering, potentially in London. The kingdom state plans to borrow about $31 billion this year to bridge an expected budget deficit of $52 billion and fund growth plans after its economy shrank last year.
The planned Aramco public offer is the linchpin of Prince Mohammed’s economic program to transform Saudi Arabia, called Vision 2030. Saudi officials hope they will raise $100 billion by selling about 5 percent in Aramco, valuing the company at about $2 trillion.
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Khalid Al-Falih hinted the Aramco IPO could be delayed until next year in an interview with Bloomberg Thursday, adding the listing would be anchored on the country’s local exchange and any international listing would be announced in due course, if at all.
Al-Falih’s comments could weaken hopes held by global bankers that Saudi Arabia will choose either New York or London as the international venue for the giant share sale. A dual international-local listing was integral to the original IPO plan, but Al-Falih is the latest senior Saudi to put the emphasis on listing in Riyadh first.
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