Five pathways how Saudi Arabia’s PIF supports Vision 2030

03 October 2023 6 min. read
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Over the past decade, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has acted as a major catalyst for economic and social transformation. Isabel Neiva, Javier Herrera and Martin Pavlica from Kearney highlight five key areas how PIF supports the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 agenda.

Around the world, sovereign wealth funds have wielded a large financial power and interest over the last decade, reaching a record $11 trillion in assets under management globally.

Backed by state governments, sovereign wealth funds typically have broader mandates compared to privately owned funds, allowing them to not only focus on financial returns but also on other developmental goals such as economic and sectoral growth. Their longer-term investment horizons also favor the undertaking of investments through a more strategic lens.

Isabel Neiva, Javier Herrera and Martin Pavlica - Kearney

A perfect example of a sovereign wealth fund is Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. Reborn as a catalyst of Saudi Vision 2030, PIF has grown into one of the largest sovereign funds globally with over $650 billion in assets under management and 2,000 employees.

In the last five years, PIF has established over 80 new companies and helped create half a million jobs in KSA whilst achieving an annual total shareholder return of roughly 8%. Going forward, PIF plans to expand its assets under management base to $1 trillion by 2025 and $2 trillion by 2030.

PIF operates with a clear strategic mandate to support Vision 2030, and it does that through five key pathways:

Economic diversification enablement

The KSA’s reliance on oil exports has long been identified as a vulnerability, susceptible to fluctuations in global oil prices. To address this potential risk, the Kingdom launched Vision 2030, an ambitious blueprint aimed at transforming the economy and creating a vibrant society with a rich culture and robust institutions. At the heart of this transformation lies the Public Investment Fund.

The efforts that PIF is spearheading from a sectoral and economic diversification perspective are fostering fast growth and expansion of several sectors. Some of these investments are rapidly driving a “crowding-in” effect on the private sector. Such an effect occurs when spending from a government or government-like source leads to an increase in economic growth and encourages private sector players to invest due to the creation of new opportunities.

A clear example of this effect in Saudi Arabia has been the development of the automotive sector, specifically electric vehicles. PIF is playing a key role in supporting this effort through investments in Lucid and Ceer. These investments are currently encouraging the private sector to develop capabilities and offerings which will secure critical manufacturing and supply chains as well as drive local content growth.

Job creation and human capital development

As PIF invests to advance diverse sectors, it also contributes significantly to job creation and human capital development in KSA. PIF’s investments in Saudi Giga projects (Neom, Red Sea Global, Qiddiya, Roshn and Diriyah), and in emerging sectors such as entertainment, tourism and culture, have unlocked multiple direct and indirect jobs.

On average, PIF’s investment has been creating over 180,000 new jobs a year. For example, through Saudi Entertainment Ventures (Seven), a PIF company, over $13 billion is earmarked to create 21 entertainment destinations across KSA, promising over 20,000 direct jobs.

Technology and innovation focus

PIF has also been very active on the technology and innovation front, helping place KSA on the global map. There have been significant efforts by the fund to invest in and localize cutting-edge technologies, with these investments ranging from big e-commerce companies to augmented reality startups and vertical farming. While varying geographically and in nature, these investments all place innovation and technology at the heart of what they do.

PIF has also set up funds to help foster this ecosystem and invest across the different stages. Sanabil is one very clear example. With a commitment of $3 billion annually, Sanabil invests in venture level, growth stage and small buyouts. This dedication to innovation was further highlighted through the transfer of a 4% stake in Saudi Aramco to Sanabil earlier this year.

The fund is also a founding partner in the Future Investment Initiative, an annual platform that brings together global leaders, innovators and thinkers to discuss and shape the future. The FII showcases KSA’s commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, attracting foreign investment, and promoting collaboration on a global scale.

Sustainable development and ESG

ESG strategy is on the agenda for most sovereign wealth funds, with 75% of such funds globally having an ESG policy, and 30% setting a carbon emissions target as of July 2022.

With PIF’s stated intention to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, it was the first MENA sovereign wealth funds and one of the first globally to declare such a commitment to net zero emissions. To support its target, PIF expects to invest more than $10 billion by 2026 in eligible green projects, such as The Sudair Solar project.

In addition, PIF recently launched the Regional Voluntary Carbon Market Company (VCM) which facilitated the auction of 1.4 million tons of carbon credits. PIF also, as the first sovereign wealth fund globally, issued green bonds and raised $3 billion in October 2022. This issuance was oversubscribed more than eight times and enabled PIF to further diversify its sources of funding.

Strategic international presence

PIF’s strategic international investments have been instrumental in driving domestic economic growth, and further enhancing its diversification efforts while ensuring a well-balanced risk-weighted portfolio. PIF is very active on the global stage through large-scale investments in big international companies through unicorns and partnerships.

While growing and diversifying the fund’s assets and returns, these investments also allow PIF and subsequently Saudi Arabia to extend its global reach and influence, and to play a major role in the international agenda for the future global economy.

The relationships enabled through these investments and partnerships also facilitated the growth and the creation of new sectors and opportunities and opened the door to attracting foreign investments into KSA and localization of content or technologies.

About the authors: Isabel Neiva and Javier Herrera are partners at Kearney, where Martin Pavlica is a principal. Kearney is one of the world’s leading strategy and management consulting firms.