Saudi Arabia Wealth Fund Buys Stakes in Disney, Facebook, Citi

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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Mickey Mouse, the mascot of The Walt Disney Company, waves before ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), November 27, 2017 in New York City. Disney is marking the company's 60th anniversary as a listed company on the NYSE. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Bloomberg) — Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund bought billions of dollars of stock as the global pandemic took root, reporting significant stakes in companies including BP Plc, Boeing Co., Citigroup Inc., Facebook Inc. and Walt Disney Co. in a quarterly filing on Friday.

The Public Investment Fund, which until five years ago was a holding company for government stakes in domestic businesses, disclosed an $827.8 million stake in BP, a $713.7 million stake in Boeing, $522 million positions in Citigroup and Facebook and a $495.8 million holding in Disney at the end of the first quarter.

The PIF is looking into “any opportunity” arising from the economic wreckage of the crisis, the fund’s governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, said at a virtual event in April. The fund expects to see “lots of opportunities,” he predicted at the time, citing airlines, energy and entertainment companies as examples.

Any new investment into Jio Platforms will add to the $8 billion deal run that billionaire Mukesh Ambani has sealed in the past weeks. Facebook last month agreed to pay $5.7 billion for a 10% stake in the digital unit, while Silver Lake Partners and Vista Equity Partners this week said they would invest about $2.25 billion in total.

Reliance is also in talks with Saudi Arabian Oil Co. to sell an estimated $15 billion stake in its oil-and-chemicals business. The Indian conglomerate last week reassured investors that the discussions are still on course as the crude oil crash sparked by the pandemic spurred skepticism over the negotiations.

The PIF, once a holding company for government stakes in domestic businesses, had its mandate broadened in 2015 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to include international investments to support economic diversification.

The sovereign wealth fund is looking into “any opportunity” arising from the economic wreckage of the crisis, said the fund’s governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan at a virtual event last month. The fund expects to see “lots of opportunities,” he said, citing airlines, energy and entertainment companies as examples.

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