FRANKFURT, March 1 Saudi Arabia's main sovereign
wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF) is looking at taking
minority stakes in German technology and financial companies,
although any deal is unlikely before 2018, the kingdom's
ambassador to Germany said.
Such a move would mirror other Gulf state funds from Dubai,
Qatar and Kuwait, which have taken minority stakes in German
companies including Daimler, Deutsche Bank
and Volkswagen, although Ambassador Awwad Al-Awwad
did not mention any companies by name.
"Germany is an economic powerhouse with (around) 300 hidden
champions here that would need more capital to take them to
another stage of development," he told Reuters on Wednesday
after meeting politicians and business leaders from the federal
state of Hesse, where Frankfurt is located.
Any stakes would be no greater than 10 percent and PIF was
looking at five to six opportunities, he said.
"We have been looking at some of the technology and
financial institutions ... but we are still in early stages,"
Al-Awwad said. "We are not interested in majority stakes."
He said there was no concrete deal yet. "It could probably
materialise in 2018," he said.
Overseas investment is part of the Saudi government's
"Vision 2030" to diversify the economy beyond oil. The
centrepiece of the strategy is listing oil firm Aramco
, which is expected to be the world's biggest IPO
and raise tens of billions of dollars.
"The IPO of Aramco is a strong signal that we want to end
our addiction to oil," Al-Awwad said.
(Reporting by Alexander Huebner; Writing by Victoria Bryan;
Editing by Susan Fenton)