Business

Saudi wealth fund, BlackRock to jointly explore Mideast infrastructure projects

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and BlackRock (BLK.N) have signed an agreement to jointly explore infrastructure projects in the Middle East, focused on Saudi Arabia.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF), which manages more than $600 billion in assets, said their non-binding memorandum of understanding will serve as the anchor for BlackRock’s Middle East infrastructure strategy. It added that the world’s biggest fund manager plans to build a dedicated infrastructure investment team in Riyadh.

Industries to be targeted include energy, utilities, transport and telecoms.

“PIF and BlackRock plan to work together to attract regional and international investors to participate in investment projects, boost foreign direct investment (FDI) into Saudi Arabia, add value to the Saudi Arabian economy and the wider market while facilitating knowledge and skills transfer.”

PIF, which aims to grow its assets under management to more than $1 trillion by 2025, is at the centre of Vision 2030, a programme introduced by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to wean the kingdom’s economy off oil revenues and lure foreign investment to establish new sectors and create jobs.

In October last year, Saudi Arabia launched a national infrastructure fund to support up to 200 billion riyals ($53 billion) in projects over the next decade. It was advised by BlackRock, which set up an office in Riyadh in 2019 to capitalise on the kingdom’s reform agenda.

A BlackRock spokesperson said the MoU is a new initiative, separate from the National Infrastructure Fund that was launched under the kingdom’s National Development Fund.

BlackRock, which had $7.96 trillion in assets under management at end-September, last year led a consortium to buy a $15.5 billion stake in Saudi Aramco’s (2222.SE) gas pipelines company. It had taken a stake in Abu Dhabi energy company ADNOC’s pipeline assets a couple of years earlier.