Saudi sovereign fund PIF eyes stakes in German tech, finance companies

Any stakes would be no greater than 10 per cent

Saudi Arabia’s main sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF) is looking at taking minority stakes in German technology and financial companies, although any deal is unlikely before 2018, the kingdom’s ambassador to Germany said.

Such a move would mirror other Gulf state funds from Dubai, Qatar and Kuwait, which have taken minority stakes in German companies including Daimler, Deutsche Bank and Volkswagen, although Ambassador Awwad Al-Awwad did not mention any companies by name.

“Germany is an economic powerhouse with (around) 300 hidden champions here that would need more capital to take them to another stage of development,” he told Reuters on Wednesday after meeting politicians and business leaders from the federal state of Hesse, where Frankfurt is located.

Any stakes would be no greater than 10 per cent and PIF was looking at five to six opportunities, he said.

“We have been looking at some of the technology and financial institutions … but we are still in early stages,” Al-Awwad said. “We are not interested in majority stakes.”

He said there was no concrete deal yet. “It could probably materialise in 2018,” he said.

Overseas investment is part of the Saudi government’s “Vision 2030” to diversify the economy beyond oil. The centrepiece of the strategy is listing oil firm Aramco , which is expected to be the world’s biggest IPO and raise tens of billions of dollars.

“The IPO of Aramco is a strong signal that we want to end our addiction to oil,” Al-Awwad said.