Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund: The Story Behind “the World’s Biggest SWF”

June 15, 2016 by Loch Adamson

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Prince Mohammed bin Salman at a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, 2016 In March 2016, Mohammed bin Salman, the deputy crown prince in charge of economic policymaking in Saudi Arabia, invited a group of Western journalists to his palace in Riyadh. Over a lavish dinner, the 30-year-old royal revealed details of an ambitious reform program designed to end the kingdom’s reliance on oil exports. One of his proposals stood out: Saudi Arabia, the prince declared, was going to create the world’s "biggest sovereign wealth fund." News outlets across the globe eagerly seized on Bloomberg’s scoop, which ran under the headline "Saudi’s $2 Trillion Megafund." The media coverage shed light on a little-known state holding company called the Public Investment Fund (PIF). The fund has been operating in the kingdom since 1971, offering loans to companies in strategic industries such as aerospace, energy and communications. Under bin Salman’s plans,…

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