By Nathaniel Taplin
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - Aug. 23, 2018
It was a tale told by bankers, full of sound and fury, but apparently signifying nothing. Oil giant Saudi Aramco’s potential $2 trillion initial public offering is shambling slowly off the stage. The government in Riyadh—responding to reports that the plan has been nixed—still insists it will go ahead “when conditions are optimum.” But it’s been clear for some time that preparations to sell about 5% of the company have, at best, lost steam. Rebounding oil prices have reduced the urgency of Saudi Arabia’s drive to diversify its economy—raising cash for investments in newer sectors like tech was one major rationale for the IPO. The political and technical issues with an IPO of the world’s biggest oil producer were always formidable, beginning with where it would list. A New York IPO would risk possible 9/11 related lawsuits, while London faced having to compromise its free-float rules to accommodate Aramco.