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January 15, 2018

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund considers banks loans for investments

By Saloni Sardana

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, among the world’s top five, is reportedly considering borrowing from banks to invest locally and overseas.

This would be the first time the country’s sovereign wealth fund known as the Public Investment Fund, would be borrowing from banks.

It could also help the Public Investment Fund to reach its goal of becoming a $2trn investment giant by 2030.

In September last year, Norway, which has the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund, hit the $1trn mark for the first time.

Saudi Arabia is reportedly expecting to generate about $5bn this year from bank borrowing.

At present, borrowing from banks is only a premature consideration, with government financing also on the table.

The Public Investment Fund reportedly did not comment.

The willingness to borrow from banks is part of Saudi Arabia’s wider Vision 2030, an economic growth plan to diversify and reduce the country’s dependence on oil.

In October, the fund’s managing director, Yasir-Al Rumayyan announced the possibility of giving PIF ownership of state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco, which is currently preparing for what may turn out to be the world’s largest initial public offering.

Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s crown prince, has reportedly said transferring Aramco to the PIF would help the country earn revenues from investments, rather than oil.

The Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute said the Aramco transfer would make Saudi Arabia the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund has recently been involved in some high profile global deals. This includes a $20bn investment into a US infrastructure fund managed by Blackstone and $45bn in a technology investment fund managed by SoftBank.

PIF is also involved in real estate developments in Saudi Arabia and in building a new city called Neom, off the Red Sea coast, part of Vision 2030.

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