Saudi Investment Fund Seizes International Opportunities

PIF's Governor Yasir al-Rumayyan speaking at a Future Investment Initiative Institute virtual event in April.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has been lately active buying shares from global companies; in the fields of aviation, banking, social media, and entertainment.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) made use of the decline in the nominal and market values of international companies and institutions due to the global economic crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The $300bn PIF bought minority stakes in companies across the world; taking advantage of market weakness in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); the PIF bought stakes in companies including Facebook Inc., Boeing Co., and Citigroup Inc.

It also bought a $713.7 million stake in Boeing, $495.8m holding in Disney and $521.9m in Facebook stock in the first quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly disclosure on the SEC.

The PIF disclosed on Friday an $827.7m investment in British oil giant BP via American Depository Receipts (ADRs) listed in the US, $487.6m in Bank of America, and $522m in Citigroup.

Other holdings disclosed by the fund include $513.9m in Marriott International as well as $78.4m in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Investment opportunities

Speaking at a Future Investment Initiative Institute virtual event in April; PIF’s Governor Yasir al-Rumayyan said the fund was looking into investment opportunities in areas such as aviation, energy, and entertainment, adding that there would be a lot of potential for investment opportunities once economies start to reopen.

The PIF recently purchased an 8.2 percent stake in US cruise liner operator Carnival Corporation; which has been hit by the coronavirus crisis, sending its shares surging at least 20 percent higher.

The Saudi fund bought stakes in Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Eni, and Equinor earlier this year; a source familiar with the transactions told Reuters on April 9.

The SEC filing on Friday showed it had a $483.6mn stake in Shell; a $222.3mn holding in Total and a $481mn stake in Suncor Energy.

An earlier filing in Norway had shown the PIF had a 0.3 percent stake in oil and gas firm Equinor.

PIF already has a $2 billion stake in Uber Technologies and electric car company Lucid Motors. It used to own a small stake in electric carmaker Tesla, but the latest filing did not show any exposure.

“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.”