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Major Int’l Companies Confirm their Participation in ‘Davos in the Desert’

Major Int’l Companies Confirm their Participation in ‘Davos in the Desert’

Wednesday, 2 October, 2019 - 10:00
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and incoming president of the European Central Bank at the opening ceremony of Future Investment Initiative Conference in Riyadh (File photo: AP)
Washington - Elie Youssef
Leading financial institutions, from the US, Russia, China and India, as well as other European and Arab countries, will participate in the international conference called “Davos in the Desert” in Saudi Arabia.

Senior executives from major US financial firms including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and BlackRock will be returning to the Kingdom for the conference, with more than 150 executives, over 40 of them representing US companies, confirming their attendance, according to a list published by media outlets.

The head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund also announced his attendance, along with other executives who represent major banks, tech companies, business conglomerates and defense contractors from China, India, UAE and several European countries.

Senior White House adviser and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner will lead a US delegation, according to Agence France Presse (AFP).

BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink said he will participate in this year’s conference as an effort to promote change in Saudi Arabia, where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to wean the country’s economy off its dependence on oil.

“I believe greater economic integration and diversification will help Saudi Arabia build a more modern and sustainable economy for all of its citizens,” Fink wrote on his LinkedIn page.

“I also believe that corporate engagement and public dialogue can help with that evolution.”

The Saudi government promoted high-profile entertainment events featuring Western artists, rolled back restrictions on women’s rights and recently announced that tourists from the US and other countries can obtain visas to visit attractions in Saudi Arabia for the first time.

Banking leaders also had a powerful incentive to keep cordial relations with Saudi Arabia, namely because of the anticipated initial public offering (IPO) by Aramco.

Analysts estimate Aramco to have a valuation between $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion, and the Crown Prince has said he would like to list as much as 5 percent of the company, the world’s most profitable company.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported earlier in September that Aramco had chosen nine banks to underwrite its listing, including JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, whose senior executives are expected to attend the investment conference.

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