Saudi Arabia has converted its giant Aramco into a joint-stock company right before its initial public offering (IPO) planned for later 2018, Reuters reported.

The company’s conversion, which was announced in a cabinet decree in the Saudi Kingdom’s official bulletin on January 5th, is a requirement for local firms in Saudi Arabia ahead of listing, a senior Aramco source stated, according to Hellenic Shipping News.

“As a customary step in the preparation process for a Saudi IPO, Saudi Aramco has converted to a joint stock company,” the source pointed out.

“This establishes the framework to allow future investors to hold shares in the company alongside its shareholder, the government.”

It is considered as a vital step as it reveals that the IPO process is going forward despite market speculation that it might be delayed or totally shelved.

The IPO could be the biggest in history raising up to $100 billion. The sale of up to 5% of Saudi Aramco, which is expected to go ahead in the second half of 2018, is a centre piece of Vision 2030, an ambitious reform plan to reduce the dependence of the Saudi economy on oil. The plan is championed by Saudi crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.