DUBAI/RIYADH (Reuters) - The head of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund was made head of an executive committee overseeing plans to float shares in Saudi Aramco before he was named new chairman of the state oil giant this week, five sources familiar with the matter said.
Yassir al-Rumayyan took over control of the committee from Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan in July, the sources told Reuters, as preparations for the listing speed up.
A spokesman at wealth fund the Public Investment Fund referred queries to Aramco, which declined to comment. The finance ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The committee reports directly to de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who wants to sell a 5% percent stake in Aramco as part of an ambitious plan to transform the economy of the world’s top oil exporter and wean it off crude revenues.
The move is a significant indication that the kingdom is gearing up to fast-track a local listing of Aramco, by bringing in Rumayyan who has great experience with local IPOs at both government and private sectors.
The past few days have seen Rumayyan replace Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih as Aramco chairman and Falih lose his seat on the company’s board as momentum builds to prepare for the sale.
Falih said on Twitter that Rumayyan’s appointment was “an important step to prepare the company for the public offering.”
The IPO, initially slated for 2017, has faced repeated delays. Saudi authorities say it is now slated for 2020 or 2021 and one source said Rumayyan pushed for that timeline.
Rumayyan’s time as head of securities listing at the Saudi stock market regulator between 2004 and 2007 qualified him to take over the process from Jadaan, a veteran lawyer, another source told Reuters.
The new Aramco chairman, a former investment banker, had also served on the board of the local stock exchange.
The finance minister remains on the IPO executive committee, which also includes Economy Minister Mohammed al-Tuwaijri and royal court adviser Fahad Toonsi, two of the sources said.
In August, sources told Reuters that the plan was for a domestic listing on the Riyadh bourse which would be followed by an international offering at a later stage.
Aramco has already asked major banks to submit proposals for potential roles in the IPO, Reuters has reported.
Additional reporitng by Davide Barbuscia in Dubai, Editing by David Evans