Aramco IPO takes center stage as Nasdaq CEO touts exchange

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The chief executive officer of Nasdaq, one of several exchanges around the world vying for the international listing of Saudi oil giant Aramco, promoted the exchange to an audience in the Middle East on Monday, saying companies that want to be "part of the future" list with the New York-based exchange.

Adena Friedman declined to comment on specific talks with the state-owned oil giant, but touted Nasdaq's more than 20-year history with Saudi Arabia's Tadawul stock exchange. In December, Nasdaq signed an agreement with Tadawul to upgrade the Saudi exchange's infrastructure and technology.

Aramco's $100 billion listing, expected to take place on the Tadawul and possibly another exchange, is gearing to be the largest IPO ever.

"Companies want to be part of the future, they don't necessarily want to be part of the past and that idea that they can come to Nasdaq to be on the Nasdaq 100 and be associated with all the companies that are driving the future of our economy, that's very exciting," Friedman said.

Nasdaq, based in New York, operates a number of stock exchanges around the world, including in Stockholm. The operator also offers technology services to global exchanges.

Speaking in Dubai at the annual World Government Summit, Friedman said large companies with dual listings in different time zones can generate more liquidity from investors.

She also stressed the importance of companies being transparent and governments having stable fiscal policies so that investors know what they are investing in.

"If you can create that environment then you have created a great capital market. The stability comes from the fiscal and monetary policy of the government and predictability," she said. "The best way to create (market) stability is to create predictability."

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