Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) emerged as the world’s most active sovereign investor in 2023, boosting its deal activity even as most global peers, including GIC and Temasek Holdings, slashed spending.
According to research consultancy Global SWF, PIF deployed $31.6 billion in 2023, ranking it the world’s most active sovereign investor for the year.
Despite a global trend of reduced spending among counterparts, PIF invested $20.7 billion more than in 2022.
This year, some of its biggest deals included a $5 billion acquisition of the US gaming company Scopley through Savvy Games Group and a $3.6 billion acquisition of Standard Chartered’s aviation leasing business through Avilease.
Globally, state-owned investors deployed $124.7 billion, about a fifth less than the prior year. Last year, GIC cut the amount of capital deployed by 46% to $19.9 billion and lost its spot as the world’s most active sovereign wealth fund for the first time in six years. Temasek also reduced investments by 53% to $6.3 billion, which led the two Singapore-based investors to report worsening returns.
Meanwhile, sovereign wealth funds governed by the authorities in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar secured five positions on the roster of the top 10 most active funds in the previous year.
This pattern appears poised to persist. As outlined in a report released by the Institute of International Finance in December, the governments of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain are anticipated to oversee approximately $4.4 trillion in total foreign assets by the conclusion of 2024. It is expected that two-thirds of this sum will be under the management of sovereign wealth funds.
The region houses an array of sovereign funds, which have emerged as increasingly notable funding sources for global transactions. This shift became more pronounced after a surge in energy prices in 2022, which strained the budgets of most Gulf governments.
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