Saudi Public Investment Fund looks for more global alliances

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Public Investment Fund Managing Director Yasir Al-Rumayyan pictured at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh. (AFP)
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Updated 25 October 2017
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Saudi Public Investment Fund looks for more global alliances

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is looking for further international partnerships as part of its ambitious aim to become the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world.
Yasir Al-Rumayyan, PIF managing director, said that global investment alliances would be a central part of a four-legged strategy.
He was speaking as PIF formally announced a $20 billion alliance with the US investment fund BlackRock to put money into what he called “conventional investment” like infrastructure and large-scale construction projects, and on top of the $45 billion agreed with Japan’s SoftBank.
“We will continue to see partnerships with the rest of the world, and conventional investments will not go away,” he said at the opening session of a major conference hosted by the PIF in Riyadh, the Future Investment Initiative.
He added that PIF is targeting annual returns of between 3 and 9 percent across its portfolios in the long term.
“PIF is a long-term fund. We are looking beyond cyclicality,” he said.
Al-Rumayyan spelled out the rest of the strategy. “We want to grow and diversify revenue across all investments. We want to localize the economy of Saudi Arabia for the future employment of citizens, and we want to expand in new sectors, like waste management, real estate and entertainment.”
Panelists included the CEO of Saudi Aramco, Amin Nasser, BlackRock Chairman Larry Fink, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and Victor Chou, CEO of First Eastern Investment Group.
They were quizzed on their outlook for investment returns as individuals and states worldwide grapple with how to ensure sufficient retirement funds during an extended period of low growth across global economies.
Al-Rumayyan said that some assets could reach annual returns in the low teens.
“We don’t want to be a sitting duck to be shot down by only being in conventional investments. We want to go beyond — that is what Vision 2030 is all about,” he said.
He also revealed that he wants the Future Investment Initiative to become an annual event, which would help the Kingdom prepare for the future.
Questioned on the long-term prospects for the oil economy in the face of the renewable and alternative fuels industry, Nasser said it would take decades for the oil and gas industry to be significantly affected by these changes.
BlackRock’s Fink warned: “Long-term growth rates are decelerating quite rapidly and this is going to  present pension funds with bigger liability issues  —  but this is also one of the reasons we have to address this issue of retirement today with expected returns — whether it’s 4, 6 or 8 (percent).
“It means you have to put money away sooner to get to the expected pool of money you want in retirement.”
Asked about his own forecasts for what was possible and realistic as an investment return, he said: “The BlackRock Investor Institute came out with a 10-year forecast of 4 per cent with a balanced portfolio. I tend to think it will be closer to 6 percent.  We’re in a world of low inflation.”
Hundreds of the biggest names in global business are attending the event in Riyadh, which concludes tomorrow.


Japan’s last imports of Iranian oil could be in October

Updated 12 min 23 sec ago
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Japan’s last imports of Iranian oil could be in October

  • US President Donald Trump’s administration has demanded nations cut all their imports of Iranian oil from November
  • Japan’s largest banks had already said they would stop handling all Iran-related transactions to meet the November deadline

TOKYO: Japanese oil refiners will likely stop loading Iranian crude by mid-September with final shipments arriving in the first half of October, the head of the nation’s oil refiners association said on Thursday, as the US pressures countries to halt such imports.
US President Donald Trump’s administration has demanded nations cut all their imports of Iranian oil from November as it reimposes sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Although it has said that some allies who are particularly reliant on Iranian supplies may be granted waivers that would give them more time to wind down shipments.
“Japanese oil refiners have been making preparations for lifting plans on the assumption that US sanctions are to be applied,” the president of the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ), Takashi Tsukioka, said.
“Considering that payment is to be finished by end of October, it is important that the refiners would finish loading (Iranian oil) before mid-September.”
Tsukioka added that the industry is asking the Japanese government to push to maintain current levels of Iranian imports in talks with the United States. But a Japanese government source, who declined to be identified, said winning a waiver was seen as “difficult.”
PAJ had said last month that Japanese refiners would likely stop importing from Iran, but on Thursday gave more details on potential timings.
Many refiners in Japan, the world’s fourth-biggest oil importer, say they are resigned to completely halting imports from one of their historically important suppliers, unlike during a previous round of sanctions when they substantially reduced imports from the Middle Eastern country.
Three industry sources familiar with the matter said shipping companies had told refiners in Japan that they would stop carrying oil cargoes from Iran. The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak with media.
That would follow similar announcements by the world’s biggest shipping companies including A.P. Moller-Maersk of Denmark.
Unlike Japan, China and some countries in Europe have significantly raised purchases following the lifting of previous sanctions.
“It would be unreasonable for (Japanese refining) industry to be influenced similarly by such countries,” said Tsukioka, who also serves as chairman of Japan’s second-biggest refiner, Idemitsu Kosan.
Japan’s largest banks had already said they would stop handling all Iran-related transactions to meet the November deadline set by Trump, Reuters reported last week.
Japanese refiners are looking to secure alternative supplies from the Middle East and the US among others, industry sources have said.
Japan last year imported 172,216 barrels per day of Iranian crude, down 24.2 percent from a year earlier, with Iranian oil accounting for 5.3 percent of the nation’s total imports.