Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund Is Said to Hire Real Estate Head

Updated on
  • PIF is starting billions of dollars of projects in the kingdom
  • Country is transforming fund into global investment powerhouse

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund hired the head of Qatar Investment Authority’s real estate arm as chief development officer earlier this year, people familiar with the matter said, as it plans to invest billions of dollars in tourism and property projects.

Greg Bankhurst, formerly chief executive officer of Qatari Diar, joined the Public Investment Fund, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Bankhurst started working at the fund in June, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Jayson Miragliotta also joined as executive director of master planning in August, the people said. Miragliotta previously held roles at Dubai-based Emaar Properties PJSC and Majid Al Futtaim, according to his LinkedIn profile. A spokesman for the fund didn’t respond to requests for comment.

PIF, as it’s known, is pushing ahead with plans to become the world’s largest sovereign fund with a series of high-profile investments. The fund is at the center of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to diversify revenue away from oil under an economic transformation plan known as Vision 2030. The PIF could eventually control more than $2 trillion, according to Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The sale of a less than 5 percent stake in oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co. to the public will provide funds for investment.

Billion-Dollar Deals

In May, the fund signed a deal to commit $20 billion to an infrastructure fund managed by Blackstone Group LP, the world’s biggest private-equity manager and agreed to invest as much as $45 billion in a technology fund run by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. In 2016, it made a $3.5 billion investment in Uber Technologies Inc.

As the PIF starts its overseas acquisition drive, it’s also planning to invest at home. The fund has announced billions of dollars of real estate projects in the past few months alone. It said in August it will develop an 18 billion-riyal ($4.8 billion) global tourism destination on the Red Sea and is setting up a $2.7 billion company to invest in the kingdom’s first cultural, sports and entertainment city that’s being developed southwest of Riyadh. The fund said this month it’s also creating companies to develop the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

To read more about Saudi Arabia’s Cities in the Sand, click here.

The PIF is beefing up its executive team as it plans more investments under the leadership of former Saudi Fransi Capital Chief Executive Officer Yasir Alrumayyan who joined in 2015. Since then, the fund has more than doubled the number of employees. Rashed Sharif was named head of domestic investments people familiar with the matter said in August. The fund also appointed Kevin O’Donnell as head of global private equity last year and Cyrille Urfer as head of global public markets.

Riyadh Meeting

The PIF next week will host global business titans including HSBC Holdings Plc’s CEO Stuart Gulliver and BlackRock Inc. chief Larry Fink at an event that aims to raise the PIF’s profile globally. SoftBank Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son will discuss the future of robotics and artificial intelligence, while Atlas Mara Ltd. Chairman Bob Diamond will discuss Africa investments. Carlyle Group co-CEO David Rubenstein and Colony Northstar Inc.’s Thomas Barrack will attend the meeting in Riyadh that starts Oct. 24, according to the event’s website.

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