Saudi wealth fund PIF hires staff in New York from Goldman Sachs, Point72

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The US subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s $730 billion sovereign wealth fund is hiring from Wall Street firms and top hedge funds to manage its growing portfolio of investments in the country.

In January, former Point72 Asset Management executive Jason Chung joined as head of the New York office of USSA International, the fund’s US arm, after spending almost 13 years at billionaire Steve Cohen’s hedge fund, according to LinkedIn.

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That month, Meredith Wood Doherty joined from investment firm Baillie Gifford as USSA International’s head of compliance and governance, her LinkedIn profile shows.

The Public Investment Fund unit also recruited former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. alumni Mark Cranley and Vesa Helin as a senior economist and head of risk, according to LinkedIn.

A representative for the PIF declined to comment.

The PIF opened USSA in New York last year and aimed to hire about 50 employees for roles including investment research, legal and compliance, and a chief of staff, Bloomberg reported. It also had plans to build a team for equity trading.

The fund manages a roughly $35 billion portfolio of US equities, including stakes in BlackRock Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Uber Technologies Inc, according to a recent filing.

In 2022, the PIF’s investments in the Americas jumped to $10.8 billion — just over half of all of its deals for the year — from just $700 million a year earlier, according to data provider Global SWF.

The fund has deployed about $4.9 billion in the US this year, more than in any other region in the world, the data show.

This recent US buying spree echoes the fund’s strategy in early 2020 when it snapped up stakes in firms whose valuations had been hit by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Yasir al-Rumayyan has said the Kingdom missed an opportunity to buy cheap stocks during the 2008 global financial crisis.

Despite having a US team, the PIF’s headquarters in Riyadh is responsible for all of its investment decisions. The fund isn’t planning to apply for a license to trade US stocks directly or through the New York unit, and will continue to use intermediaries to execute trades, people familiar have told Bloomberg.

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