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PIF plans new subsidiary to boost sports investments

Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund. Forty percent of the $11trn held by sovereign wealth funds is in the Gulf region Reuters/Ahmed Yosri
Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, governor of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund. Some 40% of the $11trn held by sovereign wealth funds is in the Gulf region
  • Expansion of sports interests key to kingdom’s strategy
  • Investment company to focus on new acquisitions
  • PIF to take control of four Saudi football clubs

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) aims to establish a multi-billion-dollar investment company to expand its sports interests globally.

The new entity will have a war chest to fund its expansion, the Financial Times reported, citing an informed source.

The move reaffirms Riyadh’s drive to make more acquisitions, investments and joint ventures in football, tennis and other sports.

The $650 billion sovereign wealth fund has recently made several sports investments. It launched the LIV Golf circuit last year, competing with the established PGA Tour. The two tours last month ended a lengthy legal battle by deciding to merge their commercial interests.

PIF governor Yasir Al Rumayyan will chair the LIV-PGA partnership. He also chairs Newcastle United, the English football club purchased by the fund in 2021.

LIV Golf and Newcastle United will not be part of the new company’s portfolio, an informed source said, adding that the focus will be on new opportunities.

The newspaper reported last month that PIF held talks with the men’s ATP tennis tour over potential events and investments.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman revealed last month plans to transform the Saudi Pro League into a SAR8 billion ($2.13 billion) force by the end of the decade.

The project – part of the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the country away from an oil-based economy – aims to privatise all sporting clubs, starting from the final quarter of this year.

It looks to increase revenue significantly and attract more of the world’s biggest football names to its fledgling league.

According to the Sports Ministry, the PIF will take control of four clubs including Al-Ittihad and Al-Nassr, which Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo plays for.

The PIF had plans to include Formula 1 motor racing in its growing sports investment portfolio, Bloomberg reported, citing informed sources. The deal failed in the early stages as F1 owner Liberty Media Corporation was not interested in selling the F1 franchise.

Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil exporter, finalised a sponsorship deal with F1 in 2020.

The kingdom’s Ministry of Sport and Ministry of Tourism have set an ambitious target for sports to contribute 0.6 percent of GDP by 2030, up from the current 0.2 percent, with the purpose of boosting international tourism numbers.

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