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Huffington, Son, Thiel join Blackstone, Siemens execs on Saudi sovereign’s event board

Huffington, Son, Thiel join Blackstone, Siemens execs on Saudi sovereign’s event board

The second Future Investment Initiative is set to take place this October

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has announced the appointment of top global executives to the advisory board of its Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference.

The second edition of the event, which last year saw sought to sell the kingdom’s diversification agenda to the world through the unveiling of $500bn mega city Neom and other investments, will take place from October 23-25.

Read: Saudi’s PIF announces plans for second investment conference

The PIF said the high profile and diverse roster of executives on the board would provide guidance, advance strategic opportunities and ensure the event “remains at the forefront of global investment debate”.

The group comprises many of the 2017 edition’s high profile attendees, including Emaar Properties founder and chairman Mohamed Alabbar, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, but features only one Saudi national in the form of Olayan Financing Company CEO and deputy chair Lubna Olayan.

Mastercard president and CEO Ajay Banga, First Eastern Investment Group chairman and CEO victor Chu, Ariel Investments president Mellody Hobson, Thrive Global founder and CEO Arianna Huffington, Siemens president and CEO Joe Kaeser, Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam and Founders Fund co-founder and Trump advisor CEO Peter Thiel make up the remaining positions.

“Last year’s inaugural Future Investment Initiative made it clear that this is an essential stop on the global business calendar, particularly for anyone interested in a truly international perspective on innovations and forward thinking from all parts of the world,” Huffington, who famously co-founded the news site bearing her name, said.

“Since then, the pace of change has only accelerated, making an even stronger case for how vital this unique gathering of leaders is for advancing our human potential. And I’m very much looking forward to working with the FII 2018 team to shape an agenda that not only showcases the best emerging ideas but helps us take meaningful action on a global scale.”

Few details of the agenda were given but the PIF said it would include debate on economic trends, three summits looking at new healthcare frontiers, immersive technology and the urban future and 12 task forces to explore emerging business and investment trends and early-stage growth opportunities.

Last year’s edition, attended by 3,800 people, saw the sovereign fund unveil a 2018-2020 programme to drive economic diversification, announce a $20-40bn infrastructure fund with US private equity firm Blackstone and a $1bn investment in British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin space companies.

Read: Saudi’s PIF aims to manage over $400bn in assets by 2020

Read: Saudi’s PIF to invest about $1bn in Virgin’s space companies

However, investors will be hoping the 2018 event is not followed by the same controversy as 2017, when just days after hosting top executives from across the world the kingdom began a corruption crackdown that snared hundreds of top businessmen, royals and government officials and knocked confidence in its reform efforts.

Read: Saudi prince seeks to reassure investors after corruption crackdown

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