Royal London warns against bending listing rules to allow Saudi Aramco to list just five per cent of shares in London

8th June 2017

Any attempt to bend the listing rules in order to facilitate the IPO of Saudi Aramco is highly inappropriate and flagrantly ignores the principles which the UK’s listing rules were designed to defend, Royal London is arguing.

While the listing would be a prize asset on the exchange due to the sheer size of the firm, the attempt to list just 5 per cent of the total share capital flies in the face of what is acceptable.

Ashley Hamilton Claxton, corporate governance manager at Royal London Asset Management, said: “The rules which regulate the UK’s equity market are designed to ensure the integrity of the London market as a leading global exchange and to protect the interests of minority investors, particularly when there is a large controlling interest in a UK listed firm. These should not be tampered with, no matter how attractive the prize.

“Given the size of Saudi Aramco, even a 5 per cent listing would mean the stock would become a key part of many of the passive equity funds which investors are increasingly using to invest in stock markets. The pension funds of millions of British savers could end up holding Aramco shares without many of the governance protections usually available to UK investors.

“We will be lobbying strongly against any concessions being granted should there be a formal attempt to IPO Aramco in the UK.  As long term investors in the UK equity market we fear this precedent could lead to a slippery slope. If this deal is forced through without adherence to the UK’s listing rules, there is a real danger further listings could emerge where large international firms are able to access UK capital markets without playing by the rules.”

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