Blackstone COO Jonathan Gray. Photo: Heidi Gutman/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The Blackstone Group might have pulled its executives from next week's "Davos in the Desert" event in Riyadh, but it does not appear to be altering its deep financial ties to Saudi Arabia.

The bottom line: It's much easier for firms to walk with their feet than with their wallets.

Blackstone reported Q3 earnings this morning, and during an analyst call was asked about possible pressures related to the Saudi Public Investment Fund's anchor commitment to an infrastructure fund that so far has garnered around $5 billion (total target of $40 billion, half of which could come from PIF). An executive replied:

"We've been concerned by what we've been reading... In the short-term we may get some questions, but the key thing to remember is our investors know Blackstone is the sole GP of the capital. We have sole discretion... Investors have enormous confidence in us which is why we believe we're on a path to growing [infrastructure] to large-scale despite some near term challenges."

The only real exceptions so far have been Richard Branson and Ari Emanuel, who have both pulled out of tangible business deals with the Saudis. But expect reporters and investors to begin asking these more consequential questions, particularly as the conference fades into the past. And we'll see if Blackstone is right that this is only a "short-term" issue.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. EST: 32,135,220 — Total deaths: 981,660 — Total recoveries: 22,149,441Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m EST: 6,975,980 — Total deaths: 202,738 — Total recoveries: 2,710,183 — Total tests: 98,481,026Map.
  3. Politics: House Democrats prepare new $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief package.
  4. Health: Cases are surging again in 22 states — New York will conduct its own review of coronavirus vaccine.
  5. Business: America is closing out its strongest quarter of economic growth.
  6. Technology: 2020 tech solutions may be sapping our resolve to beat the pandemic.
  7. Sports: Pac-12 will play this fall despite ongoing pandemic — Here's what college basketball will look like this season.
  8. Science: Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China — During COVID-19 shutdown, a common sparrow changed its song.
9 hours ago - Sports

Pac-12 will play football this fall, reversing course

A view of Levi's Stadium during the 2019 Pac-12 Championship football game. Photo: Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Pac-12, which includes universities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington state, will play football starting Nov. 6, reversing its earlier decision to postpone the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The conference's about-face follows a similar move by the Big Ten last week and comes as President Trump has publicly pressured sports to resume despite the ongoing pandemic. The Pac-12 will play a seven-game conference football season, according to ESPN.

Dave Lawler, author of World
10 hours ago - World

Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines now includes most of the world — but not the U.S., China or Russia.

Why it matters: Assuming one or more vaccines ultimately gain approval, there will be a period of months or even years in which supply lags far behind global demand. The COVAX initiative is an attempt to ensure doses go where they're most needed, rather than simply to countries that can produce or buy them at scale.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!