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Trump urges Aramco to list on New York Stock Exchange

[NEW YORK] President Donald Trump, raising the political stakes in what would be the largest initial public offering, said the US would "very much appreciate" if Saudi Arabia's government lists the Saudi Arabian Oil Co on the New York Stock Exchange.

"Important to the United States!" Trump said in a Twitter post from Honolulu early Saturday.

Mr Trump's tweet, sent hours before he was set to depart for an 11-day tour of Asia, came out of the blue for Aramco, according to a person familiar with the company, who asked not to be named. But the move is consistent with a growing push by American regulators to lure companies to U.S. stock exchanges.

Mr Trump told reporters later Saturday aboard Air Force One that he was motivated to send the tweet because the Aramco IPO "will be just about the biggest ever" and the US wants "to have all the big listings." The Saudis were not currently looking at listing on a US exchange "because of litigation risk, and other risk, which is sad," he said.

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"I want them to very strongly consider the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ or frankly anybody else located in this country," Mr Trump said.

He added that he had recently spoken to King Salman.

The tweet was "energy geopolitics in action," said Jason Bordoff, director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and a former senior oil official in the Obama administration.

"At a time when the Saudis are looking for the US.to get tougher on Iran, the Saudi-Russian relationship is warming, the Saudis are trying to attract international private capital, and the Chinese are rumored to be considering taking a piece of Aramco, Mr Trump's personal plea to list in NY raises the diplomatic stakes of Aramco's decision." A spokesperson of Saudi Aramco declined to comment, as did Kristen Kaus, a spokeswoman for the Intercontinental Exchange Inc-owned NYSE.

The Aramco IPO could be the world's largest, with the Saudi government hoping to raise $100 billion selling just 5 percent of the company. It is the centerpiece of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's "Vision 2030" reform plan, intended to diversify the kingdom's economy and invest more heavily in infrastructure.

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