Saudi Arabia’s $400 Million Investment Returned By Talent Agency Endeavor

An investment of $400 million by the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia was returned back to the investors of the Middle Eastern country by Endeavor talent agency, essentially following up on its promise not to establish any new ties while also eliminating older ties with the kingdom as a mark of opposition to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi allegedly by Saudi goons at the behest of the Saudi government and the royal family.

This incident was first reported in The New York Times and takes place after six months since the alleged murder of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. The talent agency Endeavor headed by Ari Emanuel had openly announced back in October last year after reports of Khashoggi’s murder surfaced and fingers being pointed at Saudi Arabia that it would disassociate itself from an investment deal that it had struck with the Saudi government. The company also came under severe pressure from Hollywood to take a stance against the murder of Khashoggi and thereby against Saudi Arabia.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, if the multimillion dollar deal with Endeavor had matured, it would have been possible for the Saudi Arabian government to support entertainment projects within the country as well as overseas. The deal would also have allowed the Saudi government to take over a stake of anything between 5 to 10 per cent in Endeavor.

Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, had met up with a host of Hollywood executives, celebrities and producers when he visited the United States last year. The crown prince has drawn up a strategy to reduce the reliance of Saudi Arabian economy on revenues generated from oil exports. The project titled Vision 2030, envisions development of alternative revenue sources for the country and one of the ways is to boost the budding entertainment industry of the country.

But the country’s administration and the government was dealt a tough blow following the alleged murder of Khashoggi due to stern reaction from the Western countries, businesses tycoons and companies as well as leaders in the entertainment industry. The incident also resulted in a number of companies in entertainment, tech and transportation either suspending or completely severing ties with the Saudi government.

For example, talks with the Saudi government and about potential investments related to his ambitious space-travel business were stopped by the British billionaire entrepreneur and head of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson. The plans for attending a conference in Saudi Arabia organized by the Saudi Government about investments and business sin the kinfdom were cancelled by heads of global companies including the private-equity firm Blackstone Group, Uber and Goldman Sachs last year.

(Adapted from NYTimes.com)

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