SINGAPORE Singapore Exchange has held talks with Saudi Aramco on a secondary listing, two sources familiar with the matter said on Monday, after the oil and gas company suggested last week it would likely list on more than one exchange.
The planned listing next year of up to 5 percent of Aramco is expected to be the world's biggest initial public offer (IPO). Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said last week the company was evaluating concurrent listings on more than one exchange.
The two sources told Reuters that the talks with SGX were still at an early stage, with Aramco reviewing several markets including New York, London, Hong Kong and Japan.
"This transaction is very open and in the public space. The key thing is there is quite a bit of time for due diligence and SGX is keen to play up its international appeal in this sector," said one source.
Aramco, slated to list in 2018, could also interest Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd, another source told Reuters, but a decision on the size of stake would depend on Aramco's financial details and valuation.
Aramco and GIC declined to comment, while SGX said in a statement that it was the world's most international exchange and "offered unique access to Southeast Asia's markets".
SGX has taken measures to boost market liquidity and attract bigger IPOs but it has mostly become a large Asian center for Real Estate Investment Trusts listings.
In pitching for Aramco, Singapore is highlighting its status as a leading oil trading hub, with 80 percent of the top 30 oil and gas companies having a presence in the city, according to data from government agency International Enterprise Singapore.
Singapore is a waypoint on the main shipping lanes between the Middle East's crude oil exporters and North Asia's leading industrial hubs of China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
The city-state's centrality within emerging Southeast Asia has also attracted oil traders as has the fact that Australia's rising oil and natural gas exports flow via Singapore.
Being at the heart of the region's oil shipping routes has allowed trading in Singapore to set Asia's oil pricing benchmarks, with price reporting agencies like S&P Global Platts using physical oil deals to set the daily prices off which refined products like diesel or gasoline are priced.
To extend its energy trading into financial products, SGX and Japan's TOCOM last November announced they would join forces in order to co-list Asian LNG and electricity futures, and there are also plans to establish more oil futures products.
But despite its well-established trade links and regulations, and use of English as an official language, Singapore still lacks listings of large international oil companies, which tend to prefer London or New York where liquidity is much greater.
(Reporting by Anshuman Daga and Saeed Azhar; Additional reporting by Reem Shamseddine in RIYADH and Henning Gloystein in SINGAPORE; Editing by Susan Thomas and Tom Hogue)