Saudi sovereign fund secures $11bn loan

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Riyadh — Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund said Monday it had secured its first ever international loan, boosting the Kingdom’s diversification drive.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) said in a statement that it had obtained an $11 billion (9.4 billion euro) loan as “the first step in its strategic, medium-term debt funding program”.

“We are pleased to have completed this international syndicated loan”, the fund’s managing director Yasir Al-Rumayyan said.

“This is the first step in incorporating loans and debt instruments into PIF’s long-term funding strategy,” he said in a statement.

Rumayyan added that the PIF would “develop into one of the most prominent users of banking services in the region”.

The PIF, which is to play a leading role in Saudi Arabia’s drive to develop non-oil industries, said it would use the loan for “general corporate purposes”.

Diversification is a key focus of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan, which aims to transform the Saudi economy through a slew of projects from hi-tech start-ups to a new mega city.

The fund said that under the Future Investment Initiative launched in October 2017, it aims to beef up its assets to $400 billion by 2020.

Its current holdings are estimated at $230 billion, mostly in the form of major stakes in companies including SABIC petrochemicals, Saudi Arabia’s largest listed firm. The fund is aggressively pushing a host of big-ticket investments -- from Uber to the planned $500 billion NEOM mega city on the Red Sea coast.

It has also invested in British tycoon Richard Branson’s space tourism company Virgin Galactic and pledged tens of billions of dollars to funds run by SoftBank and Blackstone.

Since 2016, PIF has committed to investments worth $95 billion including stakes in high-risk tech firms such as electric car company Tesla, according to the International Monetary Fund. — Agencies


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