By Kevin Kelleher
August 22, 2018

Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is reportedly putting on hold what would be the world’s largest initial public offering.

Aramco, as the company is commonly called, plans to delay the IPO to concentrate on buying a stake in chemical manufacturer Saudi Basic Industries, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.

The Bloomberg story followed a report from Reuters, citing four unnamed sources, that Saudi Arabia had “called off” its plans for an IPO and disbanded the financial advisors on the deal.

Aramco did not respond to a request for comment. The company has made no formal indication that is has pulled the plug on the IPO.

In 2016, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he hoped an Aramco IPO would value the company at $2 trillion and become a centerpiece of his efforts to reform Saudi Arabia and reduce its dependence on oil. Last March, reports emerged that the IPO would be delayed as Wall Street firms believed a valuation between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion was more realistic.

Saudi officials initially planned to take the state-owned Aramco public the second half of 2018, then pushed the date back to 2019. As recently as May, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister said Aramco would “most likely” go public next year.

The delayed IPO could have ripple effects throughout the tech industry. Proceeds from an Aramco IPO would add to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which has been a big investor in companies like Uber as well as SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund, which itself has bought stakes in ARM Holdings, Nvidia, and WeWork. SoftBank is reportedly planning a second mega-fund, which could raise money from the Saudi sovereign fund.

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