United Kingdom officials told that Aramco IPO unlikely until 2019

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Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in an interview with CNN last week that he was concerned about the risks that Aramco would run into by choosing NY as the venue for its $100-billion market listing.

But while some Saudi officials - reportedly including Mr. bin Salman himself - favor the NY exchange, others involved in the process have said that a presence in the United States could expose the kingdom to lawsuits.

The FT report said London had a "good chance" of securing the listing, citing insiders briefed on the negotiations.

Saudi Arabia themselves have qualified for this summer's World Cup in Russian Federation - while Iraq missed out.

Those arrested included Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire businessman with stakes in companies such as Twitter, Inc, as well as Nasser bin Aqeel al-Tayyar, a board member of Saudi Arabia's biggest travel company, Prince Mitaab bin Abdullah, the head of the National Guard, and Adel Faqih, the minister of economy.

If MSCI grants Saudi Arabia emerging market status, it could be seen as a reason to push against an worldwide listing, the sources close to the listing process said.

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According to MSCI, $1.7 trillion of assets were benchmarked against MSCI emerging market indexes at the end of June a year ago, of which about a fifth was from passive investors.

The two leaders also discussed how to enhance and strengthen cooperation between their countries, and the Iraqi-Saudi Joint Coordination Council, a body created last October to improve strategic relations and help rebuild devastated areas retaken from militants in Iraq. Saudi Arabia officials have been talking about opening the country to tourism since 2016.

London will compete with NY for the $2trn foreign flotation, along with a Riyadh listing.

A final decision will be made by Mohammed bin Salman, who oversees the kingdom's economic and oil policies.

Sources close to the process, however, said even with emerging market status, Aramco would struggle to raise $100 billion locally.

Some people in the energy industry also say that Aramco could face pressure from investors because the company has not gone through the cost-cutting that Western oil companies, like Exxon Mobil, have undertaken in recent years.

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