Oct 8, 2018

Khashoggi disappearance could impact Saudi Arabia's business deals

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Nicolas Asfouri/Getty Images

We don't yet know what happened last week to Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who disappeared after visiting the Saudi Arabian consulate building in Istanbul. Turkish officials claim he was murdered, and that his body was removed, but the Saudis call such allegations preposterous propaganda, and that Khashoggi left unharmed shortly after arriving.

Why it matters, beyond the obvious: If the Turks are right — and that remains a big if — it could have repercussions for some of the world's largest prospective financial deals.

  • Aramco's IPO: The largest IPO in history was supposed to take place in 2018, but Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tells Bloomberg that the delay should not be misinterpreted as a cancellation. Instead, the new target date is 2020, with MBS saying a strategic decision was made to have Aramco first obtain a control stake in Saudi petrochemical giant Sabic, with the IPO to follow one year later (i.e., 2020).
  • SoftBank Vision Fund: MBS said in that same interview that the Saudi Public Investment Fund plans to commit another $45 billion or so to SoftBank's next Vision Fund.

Both of these deals are, in part, predicated on beliefs in MBS as a reformer. Were the Turkish allegation substantiated, then it could become much tougher for Western bankers or exchanges to work on the Aramco IPO, or for Masayoshi Son to accept Saudi as the ongoing capital cornerstone of its evolution into an investment company.

What's next: Expect more clarity on how this is playing among the global business elite in two weeks — pending definitive resolution on Khashoggi's fate — when we learn who chooses to attend Saudi's second annual Future Investment Initiative conference.

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Deadly clashes erupt in Delhi ahead of Trump's visit

Rival protesters over the Citizenship Amendment Act in Delhi, India, on Monday. Photo: Yawar Nazir/ Getty Images

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called for calm Tuesday as deadly clashes erupted in the city's northeast between supporters and opponents of India's controversial new citizenship law.

Why it matters: Per the BBC, a police officer and six civilians "died in the capital's deadliest day" since last year's passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act — which allows religious minorities but excludes Muslims from nearby countries to become citizens if they can show they were persecuted for their religion — hours before President Trump and members of the U.S. first family were due to visit the city as part of their visit to India.

Go deeper: India's citizenship bill continues Modi's Hindu nationalist offensive

South Carolina paper The State backs Buttigieg for Democratic primary

Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend Pete Buttigieg speaks at an event in Charleston, South Carolina on Monday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

South Carolina newspaper The State endorsed former Southbend Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Monday night for the state's Democratic primary.

Why it matters: It's a welcome boost for Buttigieg ahead of Tuesday's Democratic debate in South Carolina and the state's primary on Saturday.

White House requests $2.5 billion to fight coronavirus as U.S. cases rise

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The Trump administration sent a letter to Congress Monday requesting a funding commitment of at least $2.5 billion to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, as the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. rose to 53.

The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures in efforts to thwart the spread of the virus, WHO expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,699 people and infected more than 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

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