(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia’s powerful sovereign wealth fund is set to add a crucial transport hub to the growing list of European assets linked to the oil-rich kingdom and its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
The investments are a sign of how Saudi Arabia is becoming an increasingly active dealmaking force outside the United States, which has typically been the focus of the kingdom’s attention. Below is a list of some of Saudi Arabia’s most significant European investments:
The Public Investment Fund this week said it will acquire a 10% stake in London’s Heathrow Airport in a deal that also involved France’s Ardian. The two investors will take a combined 25% stake in the airport worth £2.4 billion ($3 billion). PIF, as the wealth fund is known, said it aims to be a “long-term partner” for the airport, which already counts sovereign funds from Qatar and Singapore as investors. It comes as Saudi Arabia embarks on a plan to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on boosting its own tourism and travel infrastructure to attract more international visitors.
Government-controlled Saudi Telecom Co. said in September it’s seeking to buy a 10% stake in Spain’s Telefonica SA in a deal valued at around $2.25 billion. STC, as the firm 64% owned by the country’s wealth fund is known, said at the time it was making a ‘friendly’ approach and was supportive of Telefonica’s management. Yet the deal sparked a backlash in Spain, with the government saying it was considering taking its own stake in the business to shield its “most strategic” company from foreign takeovers and limit the influence of international investors.
Read More: Telefonica Deal Tests Europe’s Appetite for Mideast Wealth
PIF holds a 21% stake in British luxury carmaker Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings Plc. The Saudi fund built its stake as part of a wider investment in global carmakers that includes a 60% stake in US electric vehicle maker Lucid Group Inc. The deals are part of the PIF’s wider strategy to develop a domestic auto industry on the west coast of the kingdom.
In one of PIF’s first big sporting acquisitions, it was the major backer of a more than £300 million deal to acquire English Premier League football club Newcastle United FC in 2021. The deal was in limbo for some time as the UK Premier League sought assurances the PIF, which is chaired by Prince Mohammed, was independent from the state. Once complete, the acquisition showcased Saudi Arabia’s sporting ambitions, and paved the way for the kingdom to spend nearly $1 billion this year on international players to join its Saudi Pro League.
The PIF was one of the backers, alongside KKR & Co. and Global Infrastructure Partners, for a deal to buy a stake in Vodafone Group Plc’s towers unit in November 2022. The deal valued Vantage Towers AG at €16.2 billion ($17.8 billion).
Saudi Basic Industries Corporation., the chemicals firm controlled by oil producer Saudi Aramco, is investing nearly £1 billion in its facility in the northeast of England as part of an upgrade of its UK operations to lower emissions. The deal, announced in 2021, was greeted by Britain’s then Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a key deal to safeguard jobs and position the area as a hub for emissions reductions.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.