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Saudi Sovereign Fund Backs Riviera of the Middle East

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Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has a domestic mandate to identify potential projects that can generate returns, while diversify the economy from non-oil sources. A new luxury destination, “Amaala,” is being planned to encourage tourism at Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast. This is the third project planned in the area. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund will provide the first round of funding. Private corporations are expected to later join in with additional financing. The 3800 square kilometer project will capitalize on the trend in healthy lifestyles. Meditation and specialty treatments will be available, and the “transformational luxury experience” is intended to serve as a driver of foreign investment. It could also create 22,000 employment opportunities along the northwest coast. There will be arts, culture, fashion, and sports on offer, giving visitors a unique and customizable itinerary.

Amaala comes as the latest addition to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 campaign, which also includes The Red Sea Project, a global tourist center, and NEOM, a new economic zone and travel destination. The Red Sea Project and NEOM are similarly financed by the Public Investment Fund. Saudi Vision 2030 is, primarily, a campaign to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil revenue. Amaala will be built in the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Natural Reserve. The resort will consist of three sites, and is being planned to co-exist with the current marine ecosystem. There will be 700 residential villas, apartments, and homes built. Hotels will boast 2,500 rooms, and over 200 retail operations will be created, with art, clothing, and dining vendors. According to the PIF, the new destination will be known as “the Riviera of the Middle East.”

In June 2018, Saudi Arabia King Salman issued a royal order creating the Council of Royal Reserves under the chairmanship of the Crown Prince. A number of reserves were created including the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Natural Reserve which is an area between the NEOM project, the Red Sea, and the Al’A-ala Project.

Reserves Created by June 2018 Royal Order
1. Rawdhat Khuraim Reserve
2. Mahazah Al-Sayad Reserve
3. Al-Taysiyah Reserve
4. Al-Tanhat and Al-Khafs Reserves
5. Al-Khanfa, Al-Tubaiq and Hurra Al-Hurra Reserves
6. Prince Mohammed bin Salman Reserve

SWFI First Read, December 10, 2018

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IMF Bentham Opens New London Office

IMF Bentham Limited opened a new London office called IMF Litigation Funding Services Limited. The division will provide litigation finance, investment capital and strategic services for disputes in the EMEA region, which includes the United Kingdom, Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

Falck Renewables Buys Portfolio of Windfarms in France

A subsidiary of Falck Renewables acquired a portfolio of five onshore windfarms in north-eastern and western France from a fund affiliated with Glennmont Partners for €37 million. The sale was due to the fund’s divestment plan. These windfarms are located in Bois Ballay, Les Coudrays, Mazeray, Eol Team, and Noyales.

Carlos Ghosn Charged by Japanese Prosecutors

Japan government prosecutors indicted Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman of Nissan Motor, and the auto company. The indictment accuses the parties of violating Japanese financial laws by underreporting his compensation. Nissan disclosed Ghosn’s misconduct which included underreporting his compensation and using corporate funds for personal expenses.

OIF Plans to Go Defensive on Public Equities

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First Inning on Augmented Reality a Strike for SWFs

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Augmented reality (AR), which is not the same as virtual reality, is an industry that sovereign wealth capital has slowly permeated. The impressive technology has not made inroads into mainstream U.S. culture – remember Google’s efforts with Google Glasses. However, these augmented reality glasses may have industrial purposes such as in car production or logistics.

Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional Berhad backed London-based Blippar, an augmented reality studio company. Blippar appears to be on the brink of financial collapse, according to a number of media sources. There is a dispute between investors Khazanah and Nick Candy, in which the SWF had blocked emergency fundraising. This fundraising effort would have most likely lowered Khazanah’s equity stake. In June 2018, Blippar raised an extra £20 million from investors to keep things running. David Rubin & Partners LLP was hired by Blippar as insolvency practitioners.

Magic Leap

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PREVIEW COVER: January Issue of the Sovereign Wealth Quarterly

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Here is a mockup cover of the next issue of the Sovereign Wealth Quarterly, the top publication on sovereign funds, pensions, and other institutional investors.

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