No business like show business: Saudi Arabia to invest $500 million in Hollywood

No business like show business: Saudi Arabia to invest $500 million in Hollywood
Saudi Arabia is reportedly in talks to invest in at least a five percent share in Endeavor, a major Hollywood entertainment company.
2 min read
16 January, 2018
Endeavor's WME agency manages the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal and Emma Stone [Getty]
Saudi Arabia is looking to invest more than $500 million in a Hollywood agency which manages the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal and Emma Stone.

The ultra-conservative kingdom, which only opened up to the film industry last month with the lifting of a ban on cinemas, is in talks to buy a stake in Endeavor via its sovereign wealth fund, reported Bloomberg.

Endeavor is the holding company for Hollywood talent agency WME, which also manages Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) could take between 5 percent and 10 percent of the compnay, though the final stake and valuations are yet to be settled, people familiar with the matter said.

Endeavor's existing investors include Silver Lake, SoftBank Group Corp., Singapore's sovereign wealth fund and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

Representatives for PIF, Endeavor and Silver Lake declined to comment.

The Saudi investment will fund Endeavor's growing network of entertainment projects. As well as representing movie stars, directors and TV producers and musicians, it also owns Professional Bull Riders, the Miss Universe organisation and Ultimate Fighting Championship, the mixed martial arts company.

Saudi Arabia ended its decades-long ban on the screening of films in public, one of a number of social, post-oil reforms spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, cutting through decades of Wahhabi dogma.

The first cinemas are set to open in March, the kingdom's culture minister said in December, with more than 300 cinemas - comprising over 2,000 screens - opening all across the kingdom by 2030, the ministry said.

Through its investments, Saudi Arabia is aiming to boost its wealth fund to a mega $2 trillion, making it the world's largest.