The Toronto Stock Exchange is vying for a piece of the expected initial public offering of Saudi Aramco as international bourses battle for a slice of what could be the world’s largest IPO.
Nick Thadaney, an executive with TMX Group, said in a written statement Tuesday that the exchange was “dedicating a portion of our effort toward attracting the Saudi Aramco IPO to TSX.”
TMX provided little detail around its efforts, saying that it had joined a consortium of representatives in Canada’s capital markets space in a broader bid to attract more investment to the country.
The outreach efforts include a bid to list a chunk of an IPO of energy colossus Saudi Arabian Oil Co., as the company is formally known, which is expected to commence in 2018.
“Saudi Arabia represents an opportunity beyond one transaction and has the potential to provide meaningful long-term benefits for Canada’s capital markets,” Thadaney said.
A successful bid for the listing could be a long shot for the Toronto-based exchange. The sheer size of a Saudi Aramco listing has kicked off a particularly spirited competition among international bourses and banks to secure a portion of the proceeds.
The TSX has the largest concentration of oil and gas companies of any exchange in the world. Canada is also a leading destination for mining companies, who are listed on both the TSX and TSX-Venture exchanges.
“TSX could offer a lower cost of capital because there’s more focus on resource names here,” said Paul Holden, a Toronto-based analyst with CIBC World Markets.
“In Toronto maybe that company gets a lot more attention from the investment community,” he said.
However the group will need to make a convincing argument if it is to elbow out the world’s largest stock exchanges.
“With Saudi Aramco it’s harder to make that argument because it’s such a large company, but that’s one reason why you would want to argue for TMX.”
Jim Krane, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute in Houston, said he doesn’t see anything about the Toronto exchange “that suggests why the Saudis would use Toronto over another exchange that has deeper liquidity.”
However Krane, who studies Saudi energy policy, said that recent policies under U.S. President Donald Trump to limit immigration from some Muslim countries could deter the company from listing in New York.
“That’s one of the thing that Toronto has going for it, is that it’s not in the United States,” he said.
Several media reports on Tuesday said government officials in Singapore have been lobbying hard to attract Saudi Aramco to list on the country’s stock exchange, and have offered incentives to help lure in the company.
Other reports citing Saudi officials have said the company will consider listing on exchanges in London, Hong Kong and New York. Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih and others have said that the company would list in Saudi Arabia as well as several other exchanges due to the size of the IPO.
The company has pegged its own value at roughly US$2 trillion, and is widely considered to be among the largest enterprises in the world. It claims to sit atop 260 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, compared to 173 billion barrels worth of proven reserves in all of Canada—which largely consists of capital-intensive oilsands reserves.
The public listing of Saudi Aramco, which remains one of the most opaque major oil producers, is part of a push by Saudi deputy crown prince Muhammad bin Salman to shift the country away from its dependence on fossil fuels.
Speculation over where the company might list has been rampant since the idea was first announced.
For its part, the Toronto exchange is likely positioning itself as a commodity hub that will attract the attention of oil and gas-minded investors.
A spokesperson with TMX Group said in an email that the Toronto exchange has a “particularly strong global position and presence in the resource sector.”