A worker looks at journalists during a media tour of the Khurais oilfield, about 160 km (99 miles) from Riyadh, June 23, 2008. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji
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Jamil Farsi, a prominent Saudi Arabian jewelry tycoon, made an impassioned plea to the investment minister at a meeting of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce this month.Investment Minister Majed al-Qasabi replied the economy would benefit from the sale of shares in national oil giant Saudi Aramco. Those misgivings are not likely to block the IPO, which is a central part of a drive to make the economy more efficient and diversify it beyond oil exports.But the public criticism, rare in a country where there is usually little open debate about government policies, could influence the way the IPO is structured. One area of concern is whether Saudi citizens will be allocated most of the issued shares; another is whether foreigners will gain any control over Aramco's operations through this and any subsequent share offers, he said.Other prominent Saudis, while acknowledging the need for austerity, argue it isn't necessary to sell shares in Aramco.The IPO has plenty of supporters.If something close to $2 trillion doesn't look likely to be achieved, the IPO could conceivably have to be delayed, said the banker who declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak publicly.
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