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27 Mar, 2019 10:08

Hedge fund rejects huge Saudi investment over Khashoggi murder

Hedge fund rejects huge Saudi investment over Khashoggi murder

A hedge fund which cited concerns over the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi has returned a $300 million investment to Saudi Arabia’s Monetary Authority (SAMA).

Pharo Management, which got the money from SAMA in December 2018, has become the first hedge fund to publicly return Saudi investments over the matter, according to Bloomberg sources.

The founder of Pharo, Guillaume Fonkenell, reportedly told some investors in January that the decision was made to uphold the firm’s principles due to concerns about Khashoggi’s death at the hands of Saudi government agents.

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Saudi Arabia had faced difficulties in attracting foreign investment for its Vision 2030 project even before the Khashoggi murder in October 2018.

The journalist’s assassination brought in even bigger reputational risks for companies wishing to participate in the kingdom’s economic reform program. Saudi authorities deny any role in Khashoggi’s death, claiming rogue elements in its security services were responsible.

Top financiers including JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, BlackRock’s Larry Fink and Winton Group founder David Harding have all pulled out of Saudi Arabia’s flagship investment event in October.

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British billionaire Richard Branson suspended talks with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund shortly after the reports of Khashoggi's disappearance. He put the brakes on a planned $1 billion investment by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in his commercial space flight companies.

Khashoggi was one of the foremost critics of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was appointed heir to the Saudi kingdom in June 2017. The journalist’s murder, which took place at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October, is currently under a UN investigation.

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Bin Salman, who casts himself as a “modernizer,” announced the launch of a massive infrastructure project that will be seeking almost $430 billion in private sector investments over the next 10 years.

The program aims to diversify the kingdom’s oil-based economy by broadening economic opportunities in the fields of education, health, entertainment, infrastructure, and tourism.

It aims to attract investment for constructing five more airports, new train routes, and other projects. The Saudis are looking for mostly foreign investments as well as some local funding.

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