Prince Mohammad has said Aramaco should be valued overall at about $2 trillion.
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The sale of shares in Saudi Arabia's oil giant was supposed to underpin Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's grand plan to transform an insular, oil-dependent kingdom into a 21st century economy. Floating Aramco abroad would expose the most important Saudi company to the scrutiny of global markets, a hard jolt toward the modern world.Saudi Arabia's acknowledgement this week that the initial public offering is on hold represents the most significant reversal in Prince Mohammad's plans.Saudi officials said again and again that the sale was "on track, on time" for the second half of 2018, before recently extending that timeline to next year. Rather than marking a watershed in one of the most ambitious economic projects in history, it now highlights the unpredictability of the country under a young leader who has centralized political power in his own hands since becoming de facto ruler a little over a year ago.Bloomberg Businessweek reported in July that the sale was drifting and even Aramco officials doubted it would ever see the light of day.Aramco isn't planning to avoid international capital markets entirely.The bond sale would give Saudi Arabia some of the financial payoff of an IPO, without having to share ownership with international investors – or revealing information the kingdom would rather keep private.The bond sale will enforce some transparency on Aramco.
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