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Opinion
Liam Denning

A $2 Trillion Saudi Aramco IPO Keeps Getting Less Realistic

Market forces keep moving against the crown prince’s vision.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who once again vowed a $2 trillion Saudi Aramco IPO within a few years.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who once again vowed a $2 trillion Saudi Aramco IPO within a few years.

Photographer: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

Friday’s news that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince vows a $2 trillion IPO of Saudi Aramco within a few years may provoke a sense of déjà vu. It’s essentially the same headline that flashed around the world in early 2016, when he first raised the idea. Back then, it provoked a reaction of “Wow! Really?” Now it’s more “Huh. Really?

Prince Mohammed Bin Salman reaffirmed plans for the biggest-ever IPO, and talked about much else besides, in a Bloomberg News interview late last weekMight it actually happen in “late 2020, early 2021,” as he now says? Maybe, but we’ve gone through a few deadlines already for the debut of Saudi Arabian Oil Co. (to give it its full name).