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Prince Mickey bin Salman? Saudi wealth fund enters whole new world with Disney shares

Mohammed bin Salman oversees the Saudi wealth fund [AFP]

Date of publication: 16 May, 2020

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Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) disclosed some $10 billion worth of investments into US corporations on Friday, Reuters reported.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has invested $10 billion into multiple major US corporations, including Disney, Boeing, Facebook and Citigroup, taking advantage of a market that has been weakened by the coronavirus outbreak.

The $300 billion Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced $713.7 million in Boeing, about $522 million in Citigroup, $522 million in Facebook, $495.8 million in Disney and $487.6 million in Bank of America.

The Saudi fund, which has been buying minority stakes in companies across the world since the global health outbreak, already has a nearly $514 million stake in Marriott and a small holding in Berkshire Hathaway, according to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing on Friday.

“The Saudi sovereign fund went shopping in Q1,” tweeted Ali Al-Salim, co-founder of Dubai-based consulting firm Arkan Partners, adding that it now held about $10 billion in US-listed equities, up from $2 billion at the start of the year, Reuters reported.

“PIF is a patient investor with a long-term horizon. As such, we actively seek strategic opportunities both in Saudi Arabia and globally that have strong potential to generate significant long-term returns while further benefiting the people of Saudi Arabia and driving the country’s economic growth,” the sovereign wealth fund said in a statement.

“These opportunities include sectors and companies that are well positioned to drive economies and lead sectors moving forward.”

The move comes as Saudi Arabia continues its attempt to diversify its portfolio to slowly wean itself off its dependence on oil.

The fund’s chief, Yasir al-Rumayyan last month suggested PIF was venturing into aviation, oil and gas, and entertainment.

Just two weeks ago, PIF bought a 5.7 percent stake for $500 million in entertainment company Live Nation on Monday, according to news reports.

Live Nation, parent company to Ticketmaster, saw its price shares plummet by over 40 percent since the beginning of the year, as public events around the world were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Read also: What will be left of Saudi Vision 2030, post-coronavirus?

News of the PIF's purchase of its 5.7 percent "passive" stake in Live Nation led to an approximate 10 percent rise in the company's stocks on Monday, according to Billboard.

Prior to Live Nation, the PIF has bought a 8.2 percent stake for $775 million in the embattled cruise line Carnival. The company's stock price tumbled after one of its cruise ships experienced a large Covid-19 outbreak.

Among a number of reforms touted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - who oversees the PIF - Saudi Arabia has looked to diversify its oil-reliant economy and boost its tourism sector.

But the country has also witnessed a horrific clampdown on activists, including women right's campaigners.

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