Saudi Arabia’s PIF was top global investor in 2023 with deals topping $31bn

Four other Gulf funds – Adia, Mubadala, ADQ and QIA – ranked among the top 10 most active deal makers, Global SWF report says

Residential housing and skyscrapers stand on the city skyline in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016. Saudi Arabian stocks led Gulf Arab markets lower after oil extended its slump from the lowest close since 2004. Photographer: Waseem Obaidi/Bloomberg
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Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund was the top investor among global sovereign wealth funds last year as the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund continues to boost its investment portfolio, according to a new report.

The PIF spent $31.6 billion in 49 deals in 2023, up 33 per cent from 2022, industry specialist Global SWF said in its annual report on Monday.

The fund outpaced Singapore’s GIC, which ranked as the top investor for 2022.

Together with the PIF, four other Gulf funds ranked among the top-10 most active deal makers last year – Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Mubadala Investment Company, ADQ and Qatar Investment Authority – referred to as the “oil five”, the report said.

“In a short span of eight years since its reformulation, the Saudi institution has become a powerhouse both at home and overseas, with the objective of advancing Vision 2030 and of becoming the world’s largest SWF by 2030,” the report said.

The PIF is at the heart of Riyadh’s economic diversification efforts and holds stakes in public and private companies including Meta and Alphabet.

The fund announced several deals last year aside from setting up new companies to shore up the domestic economy.

In April, it paid $4.9 billion for the US gaming company Scopely through its subsidiary Savvy Games Group. In August, it acquired Standard Chartered’s aircraft leasing division in a $3.6 billion deal, via AviLease, while in September, it agreed to buy Saudi Basic Industries Corporation's steel unit Hadeed for $3.3 billion.

“The variety of deals shows the unparalleled bandwidth and reach of PIF and its subsidiaries, which are forming a wide net to capture any value-add for Saudi Vision 2030,” the report said.

The PIF also raised its stake in British luxury car maker Aston Martin to 20.5 per cent to increase its investments in the automotive sector.

Last month, it agreed to buy a 49 per cent stake in Rocco Forte Hotels in a deal that is believed to value the luxury group’s properties at about £1.2 billion ($1.52 billion).

The PIF's portfolio in US equities grew 18 per cent in 2023, as a result of the rise in value of the existing stocks, the report said. Half of PIF’s US listed portfolio is in the consumer segment, including $8.1 billion in gaming companies Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts and Take-Two.

Even as sovereign wealth funds continued to make investments globally, the total investments in 2023, however, fell 20 per cent on an annual basis to $124.7 billion amid volatility in the market, the report said.

The total number of deals also fell by 24 per cent annually to 324, with an average ticket size of $385 million.

“The 'oil five' (five most active Middle Eastern funds) continued to gain market share and to drive the activity of SWFs globally, despite the drop in deals by Singaporean funds,” the report said.

With assets worth Dh1.01 trillion ($276 billion), Mubadala continues to boost investments in different sectors around the world.

Last year, it made an investment in the US-based Aligned Data Centres, as it continues to expand its global digital infrastructure portfolio.

In April, Mubadala and the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, a Canadian pension fund, became anchor investors in Cube Highways Trust, an infrastructure investment trust in India.

It also teamed up with Aldar Properties and US alternative investment manager Ares Management to jointly invest $1 billion in a new European private real estate credit platform, to tap into opportunities in the key markets of the region.

In 2023, the assets under management of sovereign wealth funds in the GCC reached a historical peak of $4.1 trillion, and the investment activity, though lower than in 2022, amounted to $82.3 billion, led by oil five, according to the report.

Sovereign investors are also boosting investments in green assets with a record $26.1 billion, with Gulf sovereign wealth funds being responsible for almost half of that figure, the report said.

Updated: January 01, 2024, 12:44 PM