Saudi Arabia's $620 billion wealth fund to add New York trading team for U.S. unit

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The U.S. subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s $620 billion sovereign wealth fund plans to hire a team of about 50 staff for its New York office, as it expands its investments in the country.

USSA International, a wholly owned unit of the Public Investment Fund, will recruit for roles including investment research, legal and compliance, as well as a chief of staff, according to people with knowledge of the matter. It will also build a team for equity trading at a later stage, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

Chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the PIF has been plowing deeper into public markets as it looks to hit a target of controlling almost $1.1 trillion of assets by 2030.

The fund manages a roughly $40 billion portfolio of U.S. equities, including stakes in BlackRock, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Uber Technologies, according to a filing. Earlier this year, it invested more than $7 billion to build new positions in U.S. stocks as markets were battered by recession fears.

The PIF’s recent US buying spree echoes the fund’s strategy in early 2020 when it spent billions snapping up stakes in firms whose valuations had been hit by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Yasir Al Rumayyan, a close adviser to the crown prince, has said the kingdom missed an opportunity to buy cheap stocks during the 2008 global financial crisis.

Despite having a U.S. team, staff at the PIF’s headquarters in Riyadh will continue to be responsible for all of its investment decisions, the people said. The fund isn’t planning to apply for a license to trade U.S. stocks directly or through the New York unit, and will continue to use intermediaries to execute trades, they said. The team in New York will instead help to oversee trades and bridge the time difference between Saudi Arabia and the U.S., the people said.

A representative for the PIF declined to comment.

Since being transformed from a domestically focused holding company into a global investor in 2016, the PIF has been snapping up assets internationally and opening offices in New York, London and Hong Kong. It also applied for a qualified foreign institutional investor license in China.

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