Kuwait City, London
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is being transformed into a $2 trillion (Dh7.34 trillion) investment giant, is considering buying a stake in US theme park operator Six Flags Entertainment Corp, people familiar with the matter said.
The PIF, as the sovereign wealth fund is known, is holding early deliberations about the potential investment after the kingdom started negotiations to let the Texas-based company open its first attractions in the country, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the talks are private. An agreement hasn’t been reached and the informal discussions may not result in a deal, they said.
Shares of Six Flags climbed 1.7 per cent to $60.84 as of 1:53pm on Wednesday in New York, giving the company a market value of about $5.6 billion. The stock climbed 24 per cent in the 12 months through Tuesday.
Six Flags has $1.3 billion in revenue and 18 parks across the US, Mexico and Canada, according to its website. It’s looking at potential park locations in Saudi Arabia including Riyadh, Jeddah and Red Sea resort, Chairman James Reid-Anderson said in November. The plans follow a meeting between Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and company President John Duffey in the US last June.
Saudi Arabia is relaxing the rules on its entertainment industry as part of its Vision 2030 plan, which aims to overhaul the economy and cut its reliance on oil. By 2020, the kingdom plans to have more than 450 clubs providing a variety of cultural activities and events. It also aims to double household spending on recreation to 6 per cent.
A spokesman for PIF couldn’t be reached for comment. Representatives for Six Flags didn’t reply to several calls and e-mails seeking comment.
The Middle East has become a popular place for US entertainment companies looking to increase their licensing revenue. IMG Worlds of Adventure, an indoor park in Dubai, opened last year with attractions tied to Time Warner Inc.’s Cartoon Network and Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel super heroes. SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. said in December it was partnering with the Abu Dhabi investment firm Miral to build an ocean-themed park there.