Manchester United co-owner withdraws from Saudi investment conference amid MBS takeover rumours
The co-owner of Manchester United football club has scrapped plans to attend a major investment event in Saudi Arabia next week amid a global outcry over the death and alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Avram Glazer, whose family owns the English Premier League club, was scheduled to travel to the economic forum – "dubbed Davos in the Desert" – but has instead joined a growing number of business leaders pulling out of the event, BBC Sport reported.
Glazer's decision to withdraw from the conference is linked to the international outrage over the Saudi-admitted killing of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to the BBC.
The decision is also intended to dampen speculation in the British press that his family were in talks to sell Manchester United to Saudi investors.
Rumours had been circulating that interest in the English football club, a prime takeover target for Riyadh, was being led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The investment bid was reportedly part of the controversial young prince's desire to compete with Gulf rivals, such as the Abu Dhabi-based owners of Manchester City, The Sun reported.
Manchester United football club has denied that it is for sale.
The killing of Jamal Khashoggi has prompted an exodus of scheduled attendees from the Saudi investment conference, whose organisers have taken down a list of speakers from its website.
Dozens of executives - from bankers JP Morgan to carmaker Ford and ride-hailing app Uber - scrapped plans to attend.
Media powerhouses like Bloomberg, CNN and the Financial Times have also pulled out and on Saturday, Australia withdrew its representatives, saying it was "no longer appropriate" to attend, due to the Khashoggi affair.
Billed last year as a watershed economic opportunity for the conservative petro-state, the Future Investment Initiative has now come to symbolise global outrage over the silencing of critics.
Khashoggi was last seen walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.
After weeks of vehement denials, the kingdom's assertion on Saturday that the journalist was killed in a "brawl and fist fight" inside the consulate - without revealing the whereabouts of his body - was met with scepticism around the world.