Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Hires BofA Banker

Alireza Zaimi, a financier based in London is set to be appointed by Saudi Arabia to a high-ranking management post at the country’s sovereign wealth fund. This comes at a time when the Middle Eastern country is hiring foreign expertise in a bid to overhaul the kingdom’s economy. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is now worth approximately $230 billion.

Frenchman Zaimi, who will soon be based in Riyadh where he will take up a senior position at the Public Investment Fund, is currently a Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s managing director. The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, has positioned the Public Investment Fund as the instrument for ending the overreliance of Saudi Arabia’s economy on oil.

Diversification of investments

At the Public Investment Fund, Zaimi will head the treasury and corporate finance functions besides being a member of the executive committee. Currently the fund is seeking to expand to new industries by making high-profile investments both abroad and at home. Previously the Public Investment Fund’s board was composed of Saudis exclusively while the executive committee was made up of government officials. Both the board and the executive committee were headed by the Crown Prince.

Though there have been several foreign nationals who have been inducted into various positions at the fund in recent months Zaimi is making history as one of the first foreigners to take up a senior role.

Boosting assets

Some of the sizeable investments that the Public Investment Fund has committed to include a technology fund which is led by SoftBank of Japan. PIF has allocated $45 billion to this. The Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund has also allocated $20 billion to a fund focusing on infrastructure which is managed by Blackstone.

Recently the PIF hosted a conference in Riyadh which attracted big names in the world of entertainment, business and finance during which the managing director revealed that the fund intend to boost the assets that are under management from $230 billion to $400 billion in three years. According to Yasir al-Rumayyan, the money would come from debt, asset returns, government allocations and public-asset privatization proceeds.

Prior to his tenure at Bank of America Merill Lynch Zaimi had also worked at Goldman Sachs as well as at Deutsche Bank. Other foreign nationals who have recently been hired by the Public Investment Fund includes Greg Bankhurst who took up the position of the fund’s chief development officer five months ago.

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