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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Saudi Arabia's PIF forms FII advisory board of international executives

Board members will provide strategic guidance on the development of the Future Investment Initiative

Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh. The kingdom's non-oil economy expanded marginally in August. Bloomberg
Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh. The kingdom's non-oil economy expanded marginally in August. Bloomberg

The Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, has formed an advisory board that includes 11 executives from across the globe's technology, finance and business sphere that will provide strategic guidance on developing the kingdom's Future Investment Initiative as platform that attracts investment.

Advisory board members include Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Japan's SoftBank Group, Joe Kaeser, the president and chief executive of German industrial giant Siemens and Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of private equity Blackstone, which manages about $450 billion of assets, according to a statement from PIF.

The kingdom held the first round of the FII last year and is slated to convene its second gathering October 23 to 25, as part of the country's Vision 2030 that seeks to diversify the economy, cultivate industries and reduce Saudi Arabia's reliance on oil revenues. FII builds on the success of last year’s inaugural event, which brought together over 3,800 participants from more than 90 countries. The event was a gathering of global movers and shakers from across the business and financial world, government officials, influencers and policymakers, hosted by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton hotel.

This year's FII's gathering will explore the world’s most important economic trends; new healthcare frontiers, immersive technologies and the urban future. It will also review emerging business and investment trends, and early-stage growth opportunities.

Saudi Arabia, the region’s biggest economy and Opec’s top oil exporter, is pressing ahead with its economic reform agenda with an emphasis on developing the country's non-oil sector. Riyadh is encouraging foreign investors to help the kingdom build local industries and invest in projects such as the $500 billion Neom, a futurist mega-city scheme launched by the Crown Prince during FII 2017.

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Among the reforms the kingdom has already implemented as part of its Vision 2030 economic transformation strategy are the introduction of a 5 per cent VAT rate in January, far-reaching reforms to its capital markets and the enactment of new bankruptcy legislation this month to support corporate financial restructuring.

Other board members include Mohamed Ali Alabbar, the founder and chairman of Emaar Properties, Dubai's biggest listed developer, Ajay Banga, the president and chief executive of Mastercard, Victor Chu, who heads First Eastern Investment Group, Mellody Hobson, the president of Ariel Investments, Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO, Thrive Global, billionaire technology investor Peter Thiel, who is co-founder and partner of the Founders Fund, as well Tidjane Thiam the chief executive of Credit Suisse Switzerland's second-largest bank and Saudi Arabia's most prominent businesswoman Lubna Olayan, who heads the Olayan Financing Company.