Gulf sovereign wealth funds eye cheap assets
April 17, 2020 - Middle East sovereign wealth funds -- including Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala -- are buying assets whose valuations have been struck by the coronavirus pandemic.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the head of Saudi Arabia’s PIF has invested in struggling cruise operator Carnival and bought stakes in European oil companies Royal Dutch Shell, France’s Total, Norway’s Equinor and Italy’s Eni.
MbS has also acquired English Premier League football club Newcastle United in a £300 million (€345m, $374m) deal. United owner Mike Ashley placed the club up for sale in 2017 with an asking price of £340m. The coronavirus pandemic which has left football stadiums empty has seen a 13 per cent fall in the takeover price. PIF could turn Newcastle into a clone of Abu Dhabi managed Manchester City.
Mubadala, Abu Dhabi’s $230bn sovereign wealth fund, headed by Khaldoon al-Mubarak, is also seeking large-scale investments, in cutting-edge pharma and healthcare technology in the United States and Europe, and China.
The $320bn Qatar Investment Authority, headed by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is one of London’s biggest landlords, with assets including the Shard and Harrods department store, as well as Canary Wharf and a stake in Heathrow Airport. The QIA is also looking for investment opportunities in companies in Latin America, Africa and Asia, according to the Financial Times.
While Gulf nations are battling both the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic collapse of oil prices, their wealth funds are drawing up shopping lists identifying undervalued businesses around the world.
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