Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), its top sovereign wealth fund, has appointed Rashed Sharif as head of domestic investments, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
Sharif moved from chief executive of Riyad Bank’s investment banking arm. His former post has been filled on an acting basis by Adel Ibrahim al-Ateeq, a spokesman for Riyad Capital said, without commenting on whether Sharif had joined PIF.
A spokesman for PIF declined to comment.
The fund’s domestic investments, which include big stakes in top Saudi companies such as National Commercial Bank and Riyad Bank, are believed to account for more than 90 per cent of its roughly $183bn in assets.
The PIF has been hiring financial professionals from around the world in the past year as it ramps up staffing to play a major role in the kingdom’s drive to diversify its economy away from a dependence on oil revenue.
The fund will invest in domestic projects that develop industries in line with economic reforms, managing director Yasir al-Rumayyan said in May, adding that the PIF would also increase its overseas investment gradually.
Other staff hired this year include Cyrille Urfer, previously chief investment officer at Swiss private bank Gonet & Cie, as PIF’s head of global public markets, and Keith Martin, a former managing director at consultancy PwC, as chief development officer, according to their LinkedIn pages.
The PIF now has about 130 professionals with profiles on LinkedIn.
The government said this week it planned to transfer ownership of the kingdom’s airports to PIF in its drive to privatise them. The fund also plans to invest in a 334 square km “entertainment city” south of Riyadh with sports and cultural facilities.