Saudi Arabia Tops Sovereign Wealth Spending League, Snatches the Spot From Singapore

By Jace Dela Cruz

Jan 02, 2024 01:47 AM EST

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) has reportedly emerged as the world's most active sovereign investor in 2023, with deals worth billions of dollars.

Citing a report published on January 1, Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia's PIF accounted for about a quarter of the nearly $124 billion spent by sovereign wealth funds worldwide last year. 

The preliminary annual report from industry specialist Global SWF, which tracks the global's sovereign investment funds, revealed that PIF's substantial expenditure amounted to $31.5 billion in 2023, compared with the overall $123.8 billion for sovereign wealth funds.

(Photo : FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)
A helicopter flies over with a giant Saudi flag during an air show marking Saudi Arabia's 93rd National Day celebrations in Riyadh on September 23, 2023.

Cautious Approach by Saudi Arabia's PIF

In the report, Global SWF managing director Diego López noted that PIF's spending this year "may signal an overly cautious approach, as there is no shortage of capital to put to work among these institutions."

Saudi Arabia has snatched the top spot from Singapore, the leading spender for the past six years. The Global SWF report indicated a shift in the landscape in Singapore's GIC, which reduced its investments by 48% in 2023 despite a whopping $144 billion inflow from the country's central bank.

While Singapore spent almost 50% less than in 2022, Saudi's investment for 2023 rose 33%. The report also showed that Gulf funds, which were able to grow their dealmaking dominance, mainly at the expense of Canadian and Singaporean funds, accounted for almost 40% of the investment value employed by sovereign wealth funds.

While specific details of Saudi Arabia's PIF investments were not disclosed, its ventures into sports, especially soccer and golf, attracted attention in the sporting world.

READ ALSO: Saudi Arabia Offers 30-Year Tax Exemption Package for Foreign Companies 

Future Plans of Saudi Arabia's PIF

In June, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced PIF taking control of the country's four top soccer clubs, namely Al-Ahli, Al-Ittihad, Al-Hilal, and Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nassr and its backing of a potential merger involving the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and rival LIV circuit.

Aside from sports, Saudi's most significant investments were in other sectors, and 42% of this was spent on domestic initiatives. Kingdom's biggest purchases include $4.9 billion for US gaming firm Scopely, $3.6 billion for purchasing Standard Chartered's aircraft leasing division, and $3.3 billion for steel producer Hadeed.

López noted that PIF's diverse deals align with Saudi Vision 2030, the country's economic transformation plan. The report also revealed plans for the future, such as launching an airline and an electric vehicle brand. 

The report further noted that PIF also holds an $8.1 billion stake in gaming companies Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, and Take-Two, supporting the Kingdom's vision to establish the country as a gaming hub.

Considering the past year's gains, Global SWF anticipates assets for all state-owned investors, including sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and central banks, in 2024 to exceed 2021's previous peak of $50.8 trillion in assets under management.

READ MORE: Swiss Bank Banque Pictet Admits to Conspiring With US Taxpayers to Hide Over $5.6 Billion From IRS

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