When last year Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) hosted his second annual Future Investment Initiative, he was under international condemnation and scrutiny, and his invitation for major investment in modernizing the kingdom was immediately branded with pariah-status by global elites, given the event dubbed "Davos in the Desert" awkwardly came a mere three weeks after the Oct. 2, 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the consulate in Istanbul.
A year later we now know more about the Saudi state-sanctioned murder, with comprehensive investigative reports by the UN and CIA pointing the finger directly at MbS for ordering the grizzly hit and dismemberment, and though last year's "Davos in the Desert" was boycotted by a number of high profile companies and CEOs, this year's MbS-hosted investment forum in Riyadh appears business as usual once again, a mere one short year later.
"Never mind the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi — there's money to be made," Axios aptly observes.
"That's the clear message sent by the list of grandees scheduled to attend the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia later this month."
CEOs from Wall Street, Silicon Valley and global industrial giants, as well as heads of state will flock apparently without qualms to the event set to begin Oct. 29, including India's Narendra Modi and the man dubbed the 'Brazilian Donald Trump,' Jair Bolsonaro, and White House adviser and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — all who skipped last year's event due to the Khashoggi killing.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry, World Bank president David Malpass, and former White House communications chief Anthony Scaramucci are also slated to attend, among other big names.
Axios further lists top financiers attending to include Japanese billionaire Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, CEO of Citigroup Michael Corbat, as well as Tidjane Thiam, CEO of Credit Suisse, and Noel Quinn, CEO of HSBC. And further on the list are a who's who of fund managers such as Ray Dalio of Bridgewater, Robert Smith of Vista, Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone, Larry Fink of BlackRock, Daniel Loeb of Third Point, and Barry Sternlicht of Starwood.
This after Wall Street largely boycotted last year's event. Among the hottest topics is expected to be the question of Saudi Aramco's delayed IPO, stalled following the Sept. 14 drone and missile attack on its biggest oil processing facility, after wide-spread skepticism over its touted $2 trillion valuation.
Senior executives from many of the 25 banks working on Aramco’s mammoth deal -- which could see advisers sharing a fee pool of as much as $450 million -- are set to attend next week’s meeting.
US State Department booked 45 rooms at Riyadh’s Burj Rafal Hotel for Kushner and Mnuchin to attend Saudi investment forum https://t.co/h2DBXQaRAp— Ahmed Al Omran (@ahmed) October 21, 2019
Axios obtained and published a "Draft Narrative Program" of the program, which is marked "Not Final — Subject to Change," which revealed many of the aforementioned names and a draft guest list.
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