Saudi Arabia's PIF acquires 25% stake in Emaar The Economic City

New shares will be issued to the sovereign wealth fund in a $755m debt swap deal agreed with the developer of King Abdullah Economic City

Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund acquired a 25 per cent stake in Emaar The Economic City (EEC) to become a major shareholder in the company, it said on Monday.

As part of the deal, EEC issued new shares to Public Investment Fund through a 2.8 billion Saudi riyals ($755 million) debt conversion, the fund said in a statement.

The transaction, which has secured all regulatory approvals, will help both companies "leverage synergies between EEC and PIF" and further develop King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), Saudi Arabia's multifaceted industrial zone overlooking the Red Sea.

KAEC was launched more than a decade ago, as part of the kingdom's wider economic national transformation programme that seeks to wean the country off oil and cultivate a non-oil economy that caters to the pharmaceutical, automotive and manufacturing industries. KAEC also includes the King Abdullah Port, among the world’s 100 largest ports and second biggest on the Red Sea.

The deal "has the potential not only to be a win-win for PIF and EEC but also to deliver wider benefits for the broader Saudi economy in line with the aims set out in Saudi Vision 2030", said Aiman AlMudaifer, head of PIF’s Local Real Estate Division.

“Our investment in EEC aligns with our broader 2021-2025 strategy, which aims to build strategic economic partnerships through PIF and unlock the capabilities of promising sectors in the kingdom, including transportation, logistics, real estate and tourism.”

The PIF lies at the centre of the kingdom's Vision 2030 plan, which seeks to diversify the Arab world's largest economy and reduce its reliance on oil. While the fund has actively invested in global companies, it has also supported the local non-oil sectors such as the real estate industry.

Earlier this year, PIF said it will invest a minimum of $40bn a year into the domestic economy until 2025, helping to contribute $320bn to the kingdom's non-oil economy.

The fund will focus on 13 new sectors including healthcare, renewables, telecoms, media and technology, food and agriculture, automotive, transportation and logistics, real estate, aerospace and defence, construction, and building components and services as part of the new strategy.

PIF also plans to create 1.8 million direct and indirect jobs over the next five years through its investments.

The fund's latest investment in EEC will "accelerate its role as a socio-economic development platform in Saudi Arabia and will enable it to contribute its share to the goals and objectives of vision 2030", said Cyril Piaia, chief executive of Emaar The Economic City.

EEC is linked to Dubai property developer Emaar and is responsible for developing KAEC.

Updated: September 27th 2021, 12:37 PM
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