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

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