After LIV Golf, What Will Be the Next Saudi Sports Bet?

Logo The New York TimesThe New York Times
2023-06-10 12:00:05  • 7 mins

The kingdoms enormous sovereign wealth fund, which backed the golf series, has an appetite for sports. Its deal with the PGA Tour may pave the way for more investments.

When the Saudi Arabian-backed LIV Golf series announced an agreement to join with the PGA Tour on Tuesday, it shocked deal makers across the sports world.

Its been a mix of stunned and in disbelief, Alex Michael, a managing director at the investment bank LionTree, told DealBook about the general reaction.

Industry insiders quickly moved on to wondering which sport could be next.

Saudi Arabias enormous sovereign wealth fund, which is known as the Public Investment Fund, or P.I.F., has an appetite for sports. It has made investments in WWE, Formula 1 and a national soccer league (for which the country created an enormous war chest to sign big stars like Lionel Messi, who turned down an offer this week).

But the kingdoms history of human rights violations has been an obstacle to some deals in the United States. In 2019, the entertainment giant Endeavor returned the funds $400 million investment after the murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. And until recently, the PGA Tour was eager to use Saudi Arabias record against it.

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