Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said he is keen on having a business presence in Saudi Arabia as the Kingdom pushes ahead with its Vision 2030 economic diversification and social reform plan.
“Directionally, when you think about social reform, commercial reform, the Saudis are moving forward with I think a very long-term plan,” Scaramucci told Al Arabiya English on Tuesday at the third edition of the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh.
Scaramucci, who is also the founder of New York-based hedge fund SkyBridge Capital, said he is bullish on the upcoming initial public offering (IPO) of oil giant Saudi Aramco.
“We have about 24 hedge funds in our portfolio. I would say about half of those who are equity in their orientation will be potential participants in the IPO; so I am bullish on the IPO,” he told Al Arabiya.
Aramco plans to list about 5 percent of its shares publicly, first on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) on December 11, and then following up later with a global listing.
It aims to raise up to $100 billion from the IPO, based on a $2 trillion valuation. This valuation could make it the most valuable company in the world, putting it ahead of the current largest IPO of Ali Baba, which happened in 2014.
The FII 2019 conference – which brings together about 6,000 delegates – has also introduced this year the FII Institute to function as a knowledge management vehicle for the forum. World leaders, business moguls, and investors are gathered for the three-day event on October 29-31 to discuss opportunities, trends, as well as challenges facing the global economy.
Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is spearheading Vision 2030 and leading the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, has typically used the FII event to announce his plans for key social and economic reforms in the Kingdom. The Crown Prince made an appearance on the first day of the event on Tuesday, where he attended a keynote speech made by Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
“When you really see the magnitude of the [Vision 2030] plan, and the magnitude of the growth opportunity, it would be hard not to believe that they aren’t going to be an area of economic growth over the next five to 15 years,” Scaramucci added, referring to Saudi Arabia’s reforms.
SkyBridge currently has about $11 billion of assets under management, he said, while declining to mention how much of that figure belongs to investors based in the Middle East.
“We have capital from the region, we have capital from Kuwait, and Abu Dhabi and United Arab Emirates, and some of the families here in Saudi Arabia. So, I want to have a presence here,” Scaramuci added.
SkyBridge offers investment solutions to investors and large institutions. The company also manages a real estate investment trust called the SkyBridge Opportunity Zone REIT.
Scaramucci, who founded SkyBridge in 2005, was dismissed as the White House communications manager in 2017, following a 10-day stint, by US President Donald Trump over concerns about his credibility.
After leaving the White House, Scaramucci returned to SkyBridge as a co-managing partner to focus on strategic planning and marketing efforts. Chinese conglomerate HNA had offered to buy SkyBridge in 2018, but later dropped the bid amid increasing US regulatory scrutiny.
The former White House communications adviser said he has “longstanding relationships” with Saudi Arabian families – not with the government – and that he would like to maintain these partnerships.
“From a political perspective, I don’t get involved with other countries’ politics… We have longstanding relationships here in Saudi Arabia; not with the government, but actually with merchant families,” he said.