Saudi remains investment hub after crackdown


LONDON • Saudi Arabia remains an attractive destination for investors despite a sudden crackdown on corruption that led to concerns about transparency, according to a top executive at asset-management firm Investcorp Bank BSC.

“Saudi Arabia is still a big market in terms of fundraising and investing,” Hazem Ben-Gacem, head of the Bahrain-based firm’s European private equity business, said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“Our businesses in the Gulf continue to thrive.”

The firm, which aims to double its assets under management to US$50 billion (RM193.5 billion) in five years, is betting on investors’ fears being put to rest as the kingdom winds down the anti-corruption drive that led to dozens of princes and billionaires being detained in Riyadh starting in November.

Saudi Arabia freed Prince Alwaleed Talal and several of the nation’s most prominent businessmen from detention last weekend, clearing the Ritz-Carlton hotel that served as their jail.

The Prince Mohammed Salman Abdulaziz Foundation, named after the heir to the throne, sponsored a lavish lunch for Davos attendees last Friday, before US President Donald Trump also addressed the gathering.

Investcorp now has over US$21.4 billion assets under management, spread over companies, real estate, alternative investments and credit management. The firm has started marketing its Gulf healthcare fund, set to raise US$750 million.