HSBC 'excited' about Saudi
After skipping a Saudi conference last year in the wake of Jamal Khashoggi's murder, the man who runs Europe's biggest bank took the stage in Riyadh and said he expects investors to pour money into the oil-rich desert kingdom.
"We are excited about the role that we can play here," HSBC CEO John Flint, one of several prominent figures attending a high-profile conference, said at a panel discussion yesterday.
"This is an economy we have a lot of confidence in. I think the future is bright."
His optimism echoed that of BlackRock's Larry Fink, who said his firm is opening its first Saudi office and called reforms in the kingdom "amazing". Both men cancelled their attendance at a similar gathering just six months ago, but are at this year's Financial Sector Conference - a sign of how the kingdom's oil wealth, geopolitical importance and the lucrative promise of advising on reform makes it difficult for international financiers to disengage.
Last year, most Wall Street CEOs dropped out of the Future Investment Initiative event amid the international outcry over the murder of Mr Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government who wrote for the 'Washington Post.