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FCA held Saudi Aramco meetings before proposing listings change

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The UK’s financial watchdog has for the first time admitted that it met with executives working for Saudi Aramco before it proposed changing its listing rules, which some critics have claimed is an attempt to entice the giant oil company to float its shares in London.

The Financial Conduct Authority suggested creating a new category within its “premium” listing in July, which means that some state-controlled companies are exempt from certain rules. Andrew Bailey, the head of the FCA, has now told MPs that the watchdog discussed these changes with Saudi Aramco – the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia – some months before.

In a letter written in response to questions asked by members of two parliamentary select committees and published on Friday, Mr Bailey said that the watchdog “held conversations with Saudi Aramco and their advisors in light of their interest in a possible UK listing in the early part of this year”. He added: “We emphasised during those conversations that we were reviewing the listing regime.”

Investors have voiced concern that the FCA’s decision to create a new category for firms whose controlling stakeholder is a sovereign country could tarnish London’s reputation for corporate governance.

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