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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Jared Kushner looks to the Middle East for financial support for his new fund

After becoming a White House advisor in the Trump administration, Jared Kushner had a particular interest in the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, which are wealthy in petroleum resources.

After meeting the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, he struck up a close bond with him. El-Arabi was instrumental in forging links between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, as well as supporting the Emirati leadership in their dispute with Qatar. He has maintained his involvement with the area via a charity organisation that he founded after his father-in-law, former President Donald J. Trump, was defeated in the election.

Mr. Kushner is now attempting to gather money from the Persian Gulf governments for a new investment business he has formed, a move that has drawn the ire of diplomats, investors, and ethical watchdogs alike. Up to this point, his results have been uneven.

Several people involved with the discussions said that Qatar’s officials, who saw Mr. Kushner as a potential adversary in the government, refused to invest in his enterprise. According to a source with knowledge of the negotiations, the primary Emirati sovereign wealth funds felt the same way. Emirati officials saw Mr. Kushner as an ally, but they were sceptical of his business track record.

According to four persons with knowledge of their ongoing conversations, the Saudis, on the other hand, are more interested. Several sources told NBC News that the kingdom’s $450 billion Public Investment Fund is in talks with Mr. Kushner about what might be a significant investment in his new venture.

A substantial part of Mr. Kushner’s business expertise stems from his tenure as the president of his family’s real estate firm. His most well-known transaction was the acquisition of 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan for $1.8 billion in 2007, which turned into a financial burden when the crisis struck shortly after. He was also the owner and publisher of The New York Observer for a decade, from the time of his father-in-election law’s as president of the United States until his death in 2007.

After exiting the Trump administration, Mr. Kushner would not be the first former White House employee to get into a lucrative business agreement with the government’s friends in the Persian Gulf shortly after leaving office. A number of sources close to Mr. Trump’s Treasury Department have confirmed that Steven T. Mnuchin has already received investments from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.

As previously reported, Mr. Kushner visited the United Arab Emirates as part of a recent journey around the Middle East, according to two individuals with knowledge of the itinerary. The President had developed a close relationship with the Emirati ambassador to Washington during his time in the White House. He worked closely with Emirati leaders on what would become known as the “Abraham Accords,” which opened diplomatic relations between Arab countries and Israel in the first of a series of deals.

According to a source with knowledge of the negotiations, Mr. Kushner’s collaboration with authorities in the UAE during his time in the White House was hampered by Emirati worries about Mr. Kushner’s business history.

Mr. Mnuchin, who formerly ran a trading desk at Goldman Sachs, funded Hollywood blockbusters, and turned around a failing regional bank before entering the Trump administration, has fared better since joining the government. According to two persons familiar with the subject, Emirati authorities, as well as the Public Investment Firm, made investments in his new $2.5 billion investment fund, Liberty Strategic Capital, this year. Unnamed investors were mentioned in the statement by a Liberty spokeswoman, who stated the company “has a diversified investor base, which includes U.S. insurance firms, family offices, sovereign wealth funds, and other institutional investors.”

In the first three months after Mr. Trump took office, Mr. Kushner broke with protocol to organise a state dinner with the president at the White House for Prince Mohammed — in a format usually reserved for heads of state — despite the fact that the prince had not yet been designated as the heir apparent to the throne occupied by his father, King Salman, of Saudi Arabia.

Associates have said that he has expressed his disinterest in re-entering politics. Mr. Kushner founded the Abraham Accords Institute for Peace, a non-profit organisation that would work to strengthen commercial connections between Israel and its Arab neighbours, in order to build on the agreements he helped achieve while serving in the government.

In addition, according to a source with knowledge of the firm’s intentions, Mr. Kushner thinks that his new company, Affinity, would be able to identify possibilities in cross-border investment in the Middle East. Building investment links between Israel and Saudi Arabia, according to this individual, is a crucial area of interest.

According to two persons with knowledge of the situation, Affinity recently recruited Bret Pearlman, a founder of the Silicon Valley investment company Elevation Partners and a longtime money manager for Josh Harris, a founder of the private equity firm Apollo Global Management. An additional investment team member, Asad Naqvi, a former partner at the London-based private equity company Apis Partners, has been brought on board, according to one of those individuals. (Reuters has previously reported on both jobs.) Mr. Kushner will serve as the company’s chief executive.

Chris Matthews
I am a Political News Journalist of The National Era
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