Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Saudi Arabia rejects 'threats' as diplomatic pressure mounts

Saudi media: Any US sanctions over Khashoggi would ‘stab its own economy to death’ Saudi Arabia hits back at Donald Trump's threat of 'severe punishment' over journalist's disappearance
Jodi Jackson | 18 October, 2018, 05:49

Saudi Arabia reiterated its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, saying the Kingdom would retaliate against any sanctions with tougher measures, an official source said in a statement carried by Saudi Press Agency on Sunday.

Questioned by AFP, a spokesman for SoftBank Group has claimed not to be able to tell if the boss is a billionaire of the juggernaut japanese, Masayoshi Son, would or not at this meeting supposed to symbolize the ambition of the plan "Vision 2030" of Saudi Arabia.

SoftBank is now one of the world's most prolific investors, through its "Vision Fund"-a $100 billion war chest that was established a couple years back with a $45 billion infusion from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund. Recipients of Vision Fund investments have included ride-hailing outfits such as Uber and Didi Chuxing, GM's Cruise self-driving vehicle subsidiary, chipmakers ARM and Nvidia, and the office-space firm WeWork". Tech shares have retreated in the face of the US-China trade war, potentially jeopardising the value of SoftBank's portfolio companies. Saudi Arabia also has its own investment in the ride-hailing firm.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will be a crown victor when Uber goes public next year.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday declined to confirm whether US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would still be attending the Future Investment Initiative conference being hosted by the Saudi Crown Prince - known as "Davos in the desert" - later this month.

He said his bigger concern is the valuation of technology stocks. "This also potentially puts Vision Fund II at risk".

Mr Son has much at stake in his relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Ties to the Gulf Kingdom extend beyond tech investment.

A Saudi dissident in Quebec believes the kingdom hacked his phone and listened to calls he had with Jamal Khashoggi prior to the journalist's disappearance.

Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO at Uber Technologies Inc - which is now SoftBank's biggest bet, said last week he is no longer attending. A link to the list of speakers on the event's website no longer worked as of yesterday.

Saudi officials say Mr Khashoggi left the building unharmed.

Saudi Arabia said it rejects "threats" and political pressure over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi in its consulate in Istanbul, a day after US President Donald Trump said there would be "severe punishment" if Saudi Arabia is found to have killed the Washington Post columnist.

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