The Public Investment Fund amassed its holding in Norway’s largest crude producer mostly through the open market last week, according to people with knowledge of the matter. It’s not clear exactly when the PIF bought the holding and if the fund is still buying shares, the people said, asking not to be identified as the matter is private.
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Saudi Arabia’s $320 billion sovereign wealth fund, run by Yasir Al-Rumayyan and controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is taking advantage of a slump in stock market valuations as it steps up deal-making to become the world’s biggest. The fund earlier this week said it built an 8.2% stake in cruise operator Carnival Corp. by March 26 after the shares slumped since the start of the year.
Norwegian daily Finansavisen this week reported that JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s unit in Saudi Arabia had bought 14.5 million shares in Equinor on behalf of an unnamed client, followed by another 6.4 million shares.
Representatives for PIF and Equinor declined to comment.
The PIF has made a series of bold investments in recent years, amassing holdings in Uber Technologies Inc., Tesla Inc. and committing to SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund.
Still, building a stake in one of the largest international oil companies is unusual, especially as Al-Rumayyan also heads up state-owned crude producer Saudi Aramco. He’s also a close adviser to the crown prince, who sets the kingdom’s oil production policy and influences prices globally.
Equinor shares slumped just over 30% this year before rising 18% last week, amid a broad recovery for European energy majors, giving the company a current market value of about $44 billion.
The company has said it will cut capital expenditure by about 20% compared to earlier plans, in line with moves by rivals such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Chevron Corp. to counter a downturn in prices.
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