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Saudi Wealth Fund Dumps Oil Giant And Buys Videogame Stocks

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), has sold all the 51 million shares it held in Canada’s oil producer Suncor Energy, regulatory filings showed this week, with those shares currently worth the equivalent of US$1.2 billion.

According to a regulatory filing about the fund’s holdings to the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Saudi sovereign wealth fund no longer holds any shares in one of Canada’s largest oil producers and key oil sands producer, Suncor.

Instead, the Saudi fund, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, built positions in companies in the video games industry. The crown prince is a fan of video games and new technologies.

As of Wednesday, the stake in Suncor previously held by PIF—51 million shares—was worth C$1.4 billion at a share price of C$27.70, or the stake is now worth nearly US$1.2 billion.

The Saudi fund built its stake in Suncor last year just after oil prices and markets crashed and dragged the share prices of many oil companies down to multi-year lows. Back then, PIF built a 2-percent stake in Suncor, as well as a 2.6-percent in Canadian Natural Resources. The stake in Suncor had made PIF the 14th largest shareholder in the company, according to data compiled by Bloomberg at the time. The stake in Canadian Natural Resources made the Saudi fund its eighth-biggest shareholder in the first half of 2020, Bloomberg’s data showed.

While Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund was building a stake in Canadian oil companies last year, Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global, the world’s largest sovereign fund, decided in May 2020 to exclude Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus Energy, Suncor Energy, and Imperial Oil over “unacceptable greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Saudi fund, currently with US$400 billion assets under management, targets to raise its assets under management to US$1.07 trillion by 2025 and invest 21 percent of its assets in new and growth sectors. If the Saudi fund reaches the US$1.07 trillion assets by 2025, it would be one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world. Currently, Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global, the so-called oil fund, is the biggest sovereign wealth fund in the world, with a total market value of US$1.22 trillion in 2020.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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