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Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo (L), Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (center) and SoftBank's Masayoshi Son at last year's Future Investment Initiative event. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images.

More big names have pulled out of next week's Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, including TPG Chairman David Bonderman, Uptake CEO Brad Keywell and NYSE President Stacey Cunningham (she's citing a scheduling conflict).

But the biggest name, SoftBank, is keeping quiet. And so are several of its Silicon Valley portfolio companies, including Katerra and Plenty, whose CEOs are scheduled to speak in Riyadh (based on an archived speakers page that has since been removed from the event website).

SoftBank COO Marcelo Claure repeatedly hedged on Saudi-related questions from reporters yesterday during Arm TechCon:

"I think we, like most parties in the world, are looking at events unfold; and then based on that, we’re going to make decisions in the future. But at this point in time, I think, like most companies that have a relationship with Saudi Arabia, are watching the developments and seeing where this goes. There’s developments pretty much every hour these days; so we are just, you know, monitoring. ...
Right now it is business as usual — we are continuing to run our company, our funds. It’s business as usual."

The bottom line: SoftBank is running out of time, as there may not be conclusive information by the time FII is scheduled to kick off in a week from today.

  • President Trump got headlines yesterday for his "innocent until proven guilty" comment about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), but more notable might have been a rhetorical shift when he tweeted that, during a phone call, MBS "totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate." That suggests Saudi acknowledgement that something did happen in the Consulate and that Jamal Khashoggi didn't walk out under his own power.

Go deeper

Former D.C. Guard alleges Army Generals lied about Jan. 6 response

Members of the National Guard and Capitol police keep a small group of pro-Trump demonstrators away from the Capitol following the insurrection on Jan. 6. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A former D.C. National Guard official has alleged that top Army generals "lied" to Congress in their testimony on the U.S. Capitol riot, Politico first reported Monday.

The big picture: Col. Earl Matthews, who was serving on Jan. 6, alleges in a memo that the official version on the military response is "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist" and that the Pentagon inspector general's November report on it features "myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis."

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

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