London-The chief investment officer of one of the world’s largest hedge funds said he was optimistic on Saudi Arabia’s economy as the country opens its capital markets to foreign investors.
John Burbank III, the founder, managing member and chief investment officer of Passport Capital, said that the Kingdom’s openness to new investments and technologies would speed up cooperation and exchange between Riyadh and Silicon Valley, the United States’ fortress of technology.
Burbank noted that the visit conducted by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the U.S. opened new horizons for cooperation with Saudi Arabia, adding that various factors have increased optimism on the future of investments in the Kingdom.
During his official visit to the U.S. last month, Prince Mohammed signed cooperation agreements with a great number of companies in Silicon Valley, California, including Microsoft and Cisco Systems.
Silicon Valley is considered a huge technological fortress as it includes significant number of companies, such as Facebook, Google, Oracle, Intel, IBM, Apple, Adobe, Cisco and others. The valley also includes NASA and a large number of academic centers specialized in technology.
According to economic experts, Prince Mohammed’s visit has significantly increased investors’ interest in the goals of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which would further attract U.S. businessmen to Saudi markets.
Available figures showed that the United States was Saudi Arabia’s second largest commercial partner, while the Kingdom ranked 12th among the U.S. commercial partners. While commercial exchange between Riyadh and Washington reached $859.2 billion over the last 25 years, estimates show that this number would double in the very near future thanks to major business partnerships and a big flow of investments.
Burbank said his company has invested in big capitals in Saudi Arabia since 2009, but after meeting with the Deputy Crown Prince, he became much more optimistic on promising opportunities with the Gulf state.
In an interview with Bloomberg in February 2003, Burbank described Saudi Arabia as the “best emerging market.”
“The place that we probably have by far the biggest weight relative to other people would be Saudi Arabia, which is our favorite emerging market,” Burbank said.
Direct foreign investment in Saudi stocks would attract $25 billion to $30 billion in inflows, Burbank said. The kingdom, which said it will open the market gradually, allows non-resident foreigners to invest in shares through equity swaps and exchange-traded funds.
Passport Capital, LLC is a San Francisco-based, global investment firm founded by John H. Burbank III in 2000. The firm manages approximately $4.1 billion in assets as of May 31, 2016.
Passport Capital is a federally registered investment adviser with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.