Saudi wealth fund seeking ‘any opportunity’ amid virus

The Public Investment Fund has stepped up deal-making in a bid to become the world’s biggest manager of sovereign capital



Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is scouting the world for bargain investments amid the economic wreckage of the coronavirus crisis.

“We are looking into any opportunity,” Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the $320bn fund, said at a virtual event on Thursday held by Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative. “Once the economy is open and up, I think we will see a lot of opportunities,” he said, giving airlines, energy and entertainment companies as examples.

The Public Investment Fund has stepped up deal-making in a bid to become the world’s biggest manager of sovereign capital. It has built up stakes in four European energy firms — Equinor ASA, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA and Eni SpA — in the past few weeks, according to people with knowledge of the matter. It acquired an 8.2 per cent stake in Carnival Corp. after the cruise operator’s shares slumped due to the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

In recent years, the PIF has also invested in technology firms including Uber Technologies Inc. and Lucid Inc, and has committed large sums to Softbank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund.

Al-Rumayyan, a former chief executive officer of a Saudi investment bank, is one of the key figures in Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s plan to shift the Saudi economy away from a reliance on crude sales.

In addition to his role as head of the PIF, Al-Rumayyan is chairman of Saudi Aramco, the state-controlled oil producer.