Chief Strategy Officer Dennis Johnson, who had been in his role since 2018, has left, as well as the head of risk, Martin Botha, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
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The $320 billion sovereign wealth fund, run by Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan and controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been building out its bench of global and local managers as it steps up deal-making in a bid to become the world’s biggest. The departures risk stymieing those efforts as Saudi Arabia is counting on its global investments to help wean the kingdom away from its dependence on oil.
Johnson is the fund’s second head of strategy to leave in two years. Eric Ebermeyer left in 2018, just weeks after joining. Botha was one of the fund’s first senior hires in 2016.
The PIF has expanded from having “40 employees in 2016 to nearly 700 today, with plans to expand to more than 1,000 by year end,” it said in a statement.
Staff turnover is “exceptionally low and is well below both industry and MENA region averages.”
Since late last year, the fund has hired “approximately 15 senior executives” who are “a mix of top-tier leaders from both Saudi Arabia and international business centers,” it said. Jerry Todd, former head of business development at Riyadh-based investment bank NCB Capital, was recruited in a senior role to help run its strategy.
Botha said he left for personal reasons, while Chehime and Johnson couldn’t be reached for comment.
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