LONDON: The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is unlikely to have a significant impact on Saudi Arabia’s foreign trade and investment flows, the chief executive of Europe’s biggest bank HSBC has said.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, in a case that led to several high-profile names pulling out of an investment conference in Riyadh last week.
Many of the Western companies that withdrew their top executives from the Future Investment Initiative forum did however send representatives — with big deals struck during the event.
John Flint, chief executive of HSBC, said that companies were unlikely to “disengage” from doing business in Saudi Arabia.
“It has been a difficult few weeks for the Kingdom,” Flint told Reuters.
“I understand the emotion around the story, but it is very difficult to think about disengaging from Saudi Arabia given its importance to global energy markets.”
While Flint pulled out of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum, HSBC’s investment banking chief Samir Assaf spoke onstage at the event.
Flint said the bank will remain supportive of its local affiliate in the Kingdom, Saudi British Bank (SABB), Reuters reported. The news comes after Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, said it plans to more than double its investments in Saudi Arabia.
More than 3,500 participants from 88 countries attended last week’s FII in Riyadh, where a agreements totaling more than $60 billion were announced.
Executives from international companies to address the event included Alex Dimitrief, president and CEO of GE Global, and Mehmood Khan, chief scientific officer at PepsiCo.
Separately, HSBC on Monday reported stronger-than-expected results, helping to boost London’s stock market, on which it is listed.
Shares in HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank by assets, jumped 4.7 percent after it reported a 28 percent rise in quarterly profit, showing progress in its battle to control costs.
The FTSE 100 index leapt by 1.25 percent on Monday, with HSBC a major contributor to the gains.