Saudi Arabia Buys $500 Million Stake in Live Nation, Stock Rises

The firm has been hit particularly hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic, with essentially all concerts and sporting events around the world on hold.

The government of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has acquired a 5.7 percent stake in Live Nation, the parent company of Ticketmaster.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund disclosed the stake, comprising 12,337,569 shares in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday morning.

Based on Live Nation’s share prices as of this writing, the investment is valued at just shy of $500 million. Live Nation’s share price jumped at the news, rising by more than 2 percent in the first few minutes of trading. The investment is passive, and was purchased on the open market. The Saudi Public Investment Fund is now the company’s third-largest shareholder, with John Malone’s Liberty Media the largest individual shareholder with a 33 percent stake.

Live Nation has been hit particularly hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic, with essentially all concerts and sporting events around the world on hold. The company has been sued as it has been reluctant to offer full refunds to customers, though it has since amended its refund rules to address those complaints. The company’s share price is down by more than 40 percent from January 1, thanks largely to the pandemic.

The company has been taking action to bolster its liquidity amid the crisis, including opening a new $120 million revolving credit account, amending an existing credit agreement and significantly decreasing costs, including by reducing salaries.

The investment in Live Nation is the second by the Saudi government this month in an industry hit hard by the pandemic. The Saudi Public Investment Fund also took a $775 million stake in Carnival Cruises.

Saudi Arabia had been trying to boost its tourism industry before the pandemic upended international travel, and live events and concerts had been a big part of that strategy. Last October the K-pop superstars BTS became the first foreign band to perform a solo stadium show in the country.

Meanwhile, in Hollywood, many firms have been reluctant to take investment from the fund following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. Endeavor returned a $400 million investment it received from the fund last year. Many notable names from the world of media and entertainment also canceled an appearance at a major conference to be hosted in Riyadh called the Future Investment Initiative.

SOURCE The Hollywood Reporter

VistaJet Buys an Uber for Private Jets

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VistaJet Group Holding Ltd. has agreed to buy JetSmarter, an Uber-like service that connects travelers to empty seats on chartered planes.

JetSmarter operates via an app that’s been downloaded more than 2 million times, VistaJet said in a statement Wednesday. It didn’t give a price for the purchase, though JetSmarter, which has been backed by rap mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and the Saudi royal family, was valued at $1.6 billion in 2016.

The acquisition will be consolidated into the rest of VistaJet’s aviation business, providing faster access to its services, Steve Langman, co-founder of Rhone Capital, a private equity group that bought around 7 percent of VistaJet in 2017, said in the release.

VistaJet was founded by Swiss billionaire Thomas Flohr in 2004 while JetSmarter was established in 2012.

SOURCE Bloomberg

Top tech industry execs named to a Saudi advisory board amid controversy over reportedly murdered journalist

Prince MBS.jpgSaudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman   Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS

  • More than a dozen high profile tech executives, including famous venture capital investors Marc Andreessen and former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick are part of a newly announced advisory panel for a $500 billion Saudi mega-city project.
  • The panel was announced as much of the focus on Saudi Arabia turns towards the fate of a Saudi dissident who disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
  • Shortly after the list of advisors was published, the list was changed and Apple’s Jony Ive was no longer on the list.

An array of high-profile business and technology leaders, including senior executives from Google and Apple were named to a new advisory board for the Saudi Arabian government on Tuesday, even as controversy swirls over the disappearance of a dissident Saudi journalist.

On Tuesday, the Saudi news outlet Argaam reported that Neom – a $500 billion megacity project being built by the country – has formed a new 19-member advisory board. Members include Apple’s chief design officer Jony Ive; famed tech industry investor Marc Andreessen; Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Google’s urban planning unit Sidewalk Labs; Travis Kalanick, ex-CEO of Uber; former European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes; ex-Dow Chemical Company CEO Andrew Liveris, and Silicon Valley investor Sam Altman.

Shortly after the list was published and as reporters reached out to individuals about their involvement, Apple’s Ive was quietly removed from the list of names. The announcement was changed to promote a panel of 18 advisors, rather than the initial 19.

While Saudi Arabia was trumpeting its list of high-profile tech advisors, much of the news on Saudi Arabia was focused on the fate of Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government who disappeared after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey last week. The New York Times and several other news organizations report that Khashoggi was murdered by a team of 15 Saudi agents inside the consulate. A report in the Guardian on Tuesday says that Turkish authorities are focused on a black van seen leaving the consulate that they believe was carrying Khashoggi’s body.

The panel of tech and policy bigwigs will presumably help turn the sci-fi-like vision of Neom into a reality. According to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, Neom will provide a “civilizational leap for humanity” with a foundation of robots, AI and renewable energy.

Business Insider reached out to the members of the advisory board for comment about their involvement and whether they would remain on the board following Khashoggi’s disappearance, and will update this story if they respond. (Timothy Collins, Janvan Hest, and Rob Speyer could not be reached for comment.)

Here’s the initial 19-member list, according to Argaam:

1) Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator and the co-chair of OpenAI

2) Marc Andreessen, co-founder and general partner of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz

3) Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO

4) Timothy Collins, vice chairman and CEO of Ripplewood Advisors

5) Alexandra Cousteau, a senior advisor to Oceana

6) Dan Doctoroff, founder and CEO of Sidewalk Labs

7) Norman Robert Foster, founder and CEO of Foster + Partners

8) Janvan Hest, a chemistry professor

9) Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief design officer

10) Travis Kalanick, CEO of City Storage Systems

11) Neelie Kroes, a retired Dutch politician and vice-president of the European Commission

12) Andrew N. Liveris, former CEO and chairman of Dow Chemical Company

13) Ernest Moniz, founder of Energy Futures Initiative

14) Marc Raibert, a former Carnegie Mellon University professor and a founder of Boston Dynamics

15) Carlo Ratti, a professor of Urban Technologies and Planning, and director of SENSEable City Lab

16) John Rossant, founder and chairman of the New Cities Foundation

17) Masayoshi Son, a Japanese business magnate and chief executive officer of Japanese holding conglomerate SoftBank

18) Rob Speyer, Tishman Speyer president and chief executive officer

19) Peter Voser, chairman of ABB.

SOURCE Business Insider

JetSmarter Expands Booking Capabilities to its Website

The Private Jet Company continues to improve its flexibility in providing travel options as growth continues

PRESS RELEASE PR Newswire
Sept. 6, 2018, 08:00 AM

NEW YORK, Sept. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — JetSmarter, the world’s largest private aviation community, announces the launch of its new website and desktop booking capabilities, now available for the first time since the company’s launch in 2013.

For travelers looking for more flexibility when it comes to searching and booking private jet flights, now – in addition to the capabilities already available via the app – users can create a profile directly on JetSmarter’s homepage and search for flight options instantly.

The website’s new sleek design provides a complete outline of how to book travel with JetSmarter. Specifically, the Experience page showcases to first-time fliers what it’s like to fly with JetSmarter from start to finish, leading to the new Booking page, which encourages users to find seats on scheduled flights, or create their own flight from start to finish.  Travelers can create a flight by choosing the origin, date, time of departure and exact aircraft.  Additionally, users can book seats as a member or register to receive special offers on future flights.

Travelers who become members can also take advantage of JetSmarter’s 24/7 Concierge service to experience luxury perks, such as VIP access to events of their choice, exclusive discounts to five-star resorts, priority reservations at world-renown restaurants, and more.

“As we continue to grow as a brand, our goal is to create strategic, user-friendly offerings to make travel as seamless as possible for our community,” said Sergey Petrossov, Founder and CEO of JetSmarter. “Mobile bookings are ideal for our users because it stands with our motto of making travel easy and fun – as it should be.  Through our new website booking option, we’re able to provide our users with the perfect balance of choice and flexibility for booking travel.  As our business model grows, we will continue to evolve our methods by listening to the needs of the JetSmarter community.”

Additional website highlights include a section dedicated to JetSmarter’s newly branded fleet and preferred operator partners, where users can find information on a full spectrum of aircraft types that JetSmarter offers to provide the best air travel experience available on the market.

For more information on how to fly with JetSmarter, visit www.jetsmarter.com.

About JetSmarter

JetSmarter is a global community of fliers that prefer an elevated travel experience. We offer an innovative alternative to the dated and overpriced services offered in private aviation today; all while challenging the commercial aviation industry through competitive pricing and an unparalleled flight experience. Using a sharing economy model, JetSmarter gives users the unlimited ability to create flights on-demand or book individual seats on flights created by fellow fliers – all while saving thousands compared to traditional private travel.

JetSmarter does not own or operate any aircraft. All flights are performed by FAA-licensed and DOT-registered air carriers. For more information, visit jetsmarter.com

View original content with multimedia: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/jetsmarter-expands-booking-capabilities-to-its-website-300707664.html

SOURCE JetSmarter

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https://jetsmarter.com

JetSmarter Experiences Triple-Digit Growth in Seat Bookings, Dominating the Private Jet Sharing Economy

PRESS RELEASE PR Newswire
Aug. 20, 2018, 03:50 PM

NEW YORK, Aug. 20, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — JetSmarter, the world’s largest private aviation community, reports triple-digit growth in seat bookings, as the company continues its momentum of dominating the private jet-sharing economy.

Since its launch in 2013 as a members-only, on-demand flight sharing app, the platform has grown rapidly and evolved with additional features and services. Earlier this year, the company expanded its flights to the public, allowing non-members to create and share flights with other travelers, without the commitment and annual fee of membership. As a result, JetSmarter has experienced four-times month-over-month growth in the number of non-member seats booked on private jets since non-members were granted ability to access the services.

JetSmarter’s seat bookings have already grown by 116% year over year and shared flight frequency has also increased more than 20%. This growth is driven through on-demand flight creation where members and non-members alike can crowdsource flights on their own time.

A market leader in the flight-sharing economy, JetSmarter democratized private aviation by making private jet travel affordable and accessible. The JetSmarter experience remains unmatched in the industry as flyers can arrive at the terminal just 15 minutes before takeoff, skipping airport lines, and saving time while enjoying luxury travel from start to finish.

JetSmarter connects fliers to more than 300 weekly shared flights with over 800 air carrier partners globally and routes to and from 170+ countries worldwide. The platform will soon be adding desktop booking capabilities to provide on-demand searching and booking flexibility.

For more information on JetSmarter, visit www.jetsmarter.com.

About JetSmarter

JetSmarter is a global community of fliers that prefer an elevated travel experience. We offer an innovative alternative to the dated and overpriced services offered in private aviation today; all while challenging the commercial aviation industry through competitive pricing and an unparalleled flight experience. Using a sharing economy model, JetSmarter gives users the unlimited ability to create flights on-demand or book individual seats on flights created by fellow fliers – all while saving thousands compared to traditional private travel.

JetSmarter does not own or operate any aircraft. All flights are performed by FAA-licensed and DOT-registered air carriers. JetSmarter offers a number of programs including private charters, for which JetSmarter acts solely as an agent in arranging the flight, and Public Charters, for which JetSmarter acts as principal in buying and reselling the air transportation. Seats made available under the Public Charter Program are subject to the Public Charter rules contained in 14 CFR 380. For more information, visit jetsmarter.com

View original content with multimedia:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/jetsmarter-experiences-triple-digit-growth-in-seat-bookings-dominating-the-private-jet-sharing-economy-300699688.html

SOURCE JetSmarter

Investor Gennady Barsky has high hopes for Saudi’s Vision 2030

1200px-Saudi_Vision_2030_logo

“It’s a great business opportunity in the making,” says Florida-based entrepreneur Gennady Barsky. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is a grand project that is revolutionizing the cultural and economic environment of the country.

You can easily compare Saudi Arabia of the 90s with the Saudi Arabia of present day. The influence of Wahhabism defined the kingdom as a conservative state in the 18th Century. Later on, the discovery of crude oil as an important resource transformed it into a richer but far-traditionalist society.

Their reputation preceded them when they met the West. Crude oil was in demand, and Saudi Arabia profited heavily by satiating that need. To familiarize more with the West and expand their oil market, Saudi Arabia had to shed some of their old restrictive habits. It’s why you can see them enjoying a wide range of luxury cars and expensive gadgets in the early 21st Century.

Fast forward to September 2017. Backed by His Highness Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Saudi Arabia permitted women to drive vehicles. Earlier in February, they appointed a woman as the head of the Saudi Stock Exchange. February 2018 onwards, women now are allowed to open their own businesses without a male guardian’s consent.

Saudi Arabia realized that they cannot solely rely on their crude oil empire. They must diversify into other businesses. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was the first to make a move against this insecurity. The process of Saudi Arabia’s diversification can only take flight if they are on good terms with the progressive and liberal West.

That means vibrating on the same frequency with the people you want to attract. An environment that suits the Western lifestyle needs to be established. While good infrastructure and professional standards have been maintained, Saudi Arabia needs to work on its recessive culture. Entrepreneurial and innovational temperament can also be boosted.

As a corollary, the biggest infrastructural and economic reform Saudi Arabia is undertaking is ‘Neom’, a megacity project under Vision 2030 that’ll symbolize Saudi Arabia’s diversification. Financial experts like James M Dorsey and Gennady Barsky believe it will bring in a lot of investment.

The development of this 26,500 km2 futuristic city shall create a lot of prospects for employment, investments, and cultural advancement. When the city is completed, it may imitate those futuristic utopian societies often shown in movies and cartoon shows, where mankind prospers and is able to look up to the sky, thinking of a brighter and extraterrestrial future.