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Saudi Aramco reportedly favors Tokyo for its overseas IPO

Lisa Micheal 63 Aug 29
The logo of Saudi state oil giant Aramco.

Saudi Aramco is considering Tokyo — instead of early favorites London and Hong Kong — as the international destination to list its shares, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The initial public offering of Saudi Arabia's state oil giant's shares will take place over two stages: A flotation on the Saudi stock exchange later this year, followed by an international listing in 2020 or 2021, the Journal reported, citing advisors and officials familiar with the plans.

Aramco's IPO, when it goes ahead, is expected to be the world's largest.

The company had targeted to raise $100 billion through selling 5% of its share in the public markets, but it's not clear what the final amount will be, according to the report.

Many stock exchanges around the world have courted Aramco to list on their markets, with London and Hong Kong widely considered the front-runners to clinch the deal. But political uncertainties facing the two cities — arising from Brexit, the U.K.'s impending departure from the European Union, as well as prolonged protests in Hong Kong — have diminished their attractiveness, the report said.

Still, Saudi officials and Aramco advisors told the Journal that while they're leaning toward picking Tokyo, no final decision has been made and all options were still on the table.

CNBC has reached out to Aramco for comment on the Journal report, but didn't immediately hear back. The company told the Journal it "continues to engage with the shareholder on IPO readiness activities." It added it "is ready and timing will depend on market conditions and be at a time of the shareholder's choosing."

Japan Exchange Group, which runs the Tokyo Stock Exchange, didn't immediately reply to CNBC's request for comment.

For the full report on Aramco's IPO plans, read The Wall Street Journal.