Oct 23, 2019

Scoop: The grandees headed to Saudi Arabia's "Davos in the Desert"

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Never mind the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi — there's money to be made. That's the clear message sent by the list of grandees scheduled to attend the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia later this month.

Axios has obtained a "Draft Narrative Program" for the conference, marked "Not Final — Subject to Change." Any of the names on the program could therefore still pull out. Those names include heads of state, including Narendra Modi of India and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.

  • The Trump administration is represented by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner. Former Treasury undersecretary David Malpass, now the president of the World Bank, is also on the list, as is former White House communications chief Anthony Scaramucci.
  • Top financiers scheduled to attend include Michael Corbat, CEO of Citigroup, Tidjane Thiam, CEO of Credit Suisse, and Noel Quinn, CEO of HSBC. Fund managers include Ray Dalio of Bridgewater, Robert Smith of Vista, Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone, Larry Fink of BlackRock, Daniel Loeb of Third Point, and Barry Sternlicht of Starwood.
  • Nine of the panels are moderated by journalists from Bloomberg. After Axios published this story, Bloomberg said in a statement: "Bloomberg is not sponsoring the event or participating in the program. We will be covering news from the conference, as we did last year."
  • Masayoshi Son of Softbank is on the program; he's still trying to raise some $100 billion for Vision Fund 2, largely from Saudi Arabia.
  • Also in attendance, for some reason: will.i.am.

See the whole program here

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from Bloomberg.

Go deeper

Bloomberg will not participate in Saudi Arabia's "Davos in the Desert"

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman speaks during the second day of the 2018 'Future Investment Initiative.' Photo: Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Kingdom Council/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

None of the panels at this month's Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh will feature Bloomberg moderators, the news organization said Wednesday.

Driving the news: Axios reported earlier on Wednesday that Bloomberg reporters were scheduled to moderate nine of the panels in a draft of the program. Ty Trippet, a Bloomberg spokesman, told Axios that "Bloomberg is not sponsoring the event or participating in the program. We will be covering news from the conference, as we did last year."

Go deeper: The draft list of grandees scheduled to appear at "Davos in the Desert"

Keep ReadingArrowOct 23, 2019

Saudi Arabia's "Davos in the Desert" releases its agenda

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the conference in 2017 — with then-IMF head Christine Lagarde at left. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative — popularly known as "Davos in the Desert" — has finally released its agenda, just 24 hours before the controversial conference is set to begin.

What's happening: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman does not appear to be on the program. Instead, opening remarks will come from Saudi Public Investment Fund chief and Uber board member Yasir Al-Rumayyan.

Go deeperArrowOct 28, 2019

CEOs' allergy to geopolitics

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

If CEOs are the new politicians, many of them don't seem to have thought carefully about foreign policy — particularly about working with autocratic regimes.

Why it matters: Corporate America continues to do business with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, who allegedly oversaw the beheading of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and to court business in places like China and Turkey.

Go deeperArrowNov 12, 2019