Saudi Aramco executives began 2020 in a celebratory mood after pulling off the world’s largest stock market listing. But it has rapidly become the state-controlled oil company’s toughest year in decades, hit by the twin shocks of coronavirus and a slump in crude prices.

“Aramco has successfully navigated many challenges in its 87-year history …But this current crisis that has caused the worst economic downturn since the great depression of the 1930s is by far the toughest challenge the world has ever faced,” CEO Amin Nasser said after reporting a 73% drop in quarterly earnings.

The results were better than its international peers, many of which have suffered multibillion-dollar losses as the pandemic triggered a fall in oil demand and forced companies to write down assets. But such a dramatic collapse in Saudi Aramco’s earnings would have been unthinkable when it launched its long-awaited share sale in December.

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