As oil prices fall, Saudi Arabia said to hire bankers for planned US$2 trillion sovereign wealth fund

A worker filling a car with fuel at a petrol station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in this Dec 22, 2015, file photo.
A worker filling a car with fuel at a petrol station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in this Dec 22, 2015, file photo.PHOTO: REUTERS

DUBAI/RIYADH (BLOOMBERG) - Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) is seeking to recruit senior bankers to help the kingdom run what may become the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The fund, which holds about US$100 billion worth of stakes in local companies, is working with US-based executive search firm Korn Ferry International to hire for positions including the head of private equity, head of real estate, head of risk management and the head of markets, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. The fund is seeking the most experienced international candidates, they said.

Saudi Arabia is preparing itself for the twilight of the oil age by expanding the PIF so it eventually controls more than US$2 trillion, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview earlier this month. The country will sell shares in Saudi Arabian Oil Co's parent company, or Aramco, and transfer these to the fund, technically making investments the source of Saudi government revenue, not oil, according to the prince.

The PIF holds the government's stakes in companies including Saudi Basic Industries Corp, the world's second- biggest chemicals manufacturer, and National Commercial Bank, the Middle East's second-largest lender. After the Aramco IPO in 2017 or 2018, the fund will then play a major role in the economy, investing at home and abroad, the prince said.

PIF ultimately plans to increase the proportion of foreign investments to 50 per cent of the fund by 2020 from 5 per cent now, Yasir Alrumayyan, secretary-general of the fund's board also said this month. Valued at US$2 trillion, it would be big enough to buy Apple Inc, Google parent Alphabet Inc, Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway - the world's four largest publicly traded companies.

Strategic investments would give the PIF a similar remit to Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Co. PJSC, which has bought stakes in companies from semiconductors to health care as the largest of the United Arab Emirates seeks to diversify its economy.