Norway wealth fund warns UK against listing change

Warning that plans to create a 'premium' listing could harm minority shareholders

There is disquiet over a proposed loosening of standards to attract the IPO of Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company. Photograph: Reuters

There is disquiet over a proposed loosening of standards to attract the IPO of Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company. Photograph: Reuters

 

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund has sharply criticised UK plans to change its stock market listing rules, adding to disquiet over a proposed loosening of standards to attract the IPO of Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company.

Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which manages Norway’s oil fund, warned the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) that its plans to create a “premium” listing that would exempt companies controlled by governments from some rules could harm minority shareholders.

NBIM said the protection of minority shareholders was a “requirement” of the fund’s financial interests.

Criticised

The FCA’s plans have been widely criticised by institutional investors for loosening corporate governance rules in an effort to attract Aramco’s mooted $2tn IPO. But it also has support from some in the City, eager to secure what promises to be a fee bonanza for advisers.

Aramco may yet choose to shelve its international listing and place its shares privately in tandem with a Saudi IPO. The world’s largest oil producer has insisted that its plans – a keystone of wider economic reforms by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s crown prince, are still on track.

The FCA’s consultation closed last week and the watchdog is expected to make a final policy statement at the end of the year.

– (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017)