Wednesday 17, October 2018 by Kudakwashe

BlackRock not cutting ties with Saudi despite not attending FII


The asset manager's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) said he wanted the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference to be delayed until the end of an investigation into the journalist’s disappearance.

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said his decision to withdraw from the upcoming conference in Saudi Arabia doesn’t mean his company will stop doing business with the country.

Fink said, “It’s our intention at the moment to continue our relationships with Saudi, it is our intention to continue to open an office in Saudi.”

The firm has relationships in countries around the world, including many where "we do not approve of behaviours."

"The world for businesses is not black and white," Fink said.

Many prominent company leaders have said they will not attend the FII, which is scheduled to start in Riyadh next week, after the disappearance of a prominent Saudi government critic. Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was last seen entering the Kingdom’s consulate in Turkey.

A year ago, Fink attended the FII conference, publicly praising the direction of the Saudi economy. The firm received local arranging and advising licences earlier in 2018.

Fink said earlier Tuesday in an interview with CNBC that he wanted to see the conference delayed until there was an investigation into the matter.

“I had only one choice and that was to withdraw from the conference,” said Fink, who heard from many BlackRock clients and employees about the situation.

Fink added in the interview with Bloomberg that he will be monitoring the Saudi situation.

“If the facts are remarkably different than what we believe may be today, then we will see,” he said.

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