Richard Blumenthal
Richard Blumenthal

Saudi Arabia’s PR team faces scrutiny. Senator Richard Blumenthal has expanded his probe into Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund’s deal with the PGA Tour to “effectively control professional golf in the US” to include all PIF investments in this country.

In his Sept. 13 memo to members of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investments, Blumenthal noted that PIF has invested in Meta Platforms, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Starbucks, Microsoft, Lucid Motors, Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Live Nation Entertainment and Uber.

PIF’s venture capital firm, Sanabil Investments, has purchased stakes in equity firms Blackstone, KKR, Apollo, General Atlantic, Hellman & Friedman, and CVC.

The Connecticut Democrat sees the potential to use PIF investments to suppress unfavorable narratives about Saudi Arabia.

He cited a reports that Vice Media removed an unfavorable documentary about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after it merged with a Saudi Arabia government-owned media company.

“Determining whether there are connections between investment and suppression of speech and guarding against their intended effects is impossible without knowing where and how Saudi Arabia is invested in the US, and much of its investment is through PIF,” wrote Blumenthal in the memo.

Blumenthal on Sept. 13 issued a subpoena to Jason Chung, who heads PIF’s US office, to appear before the Subcommittee.

Chung is to produce all records about current and planned investments in the US by PIF.

Blumenthal also wants names of any US-based PR agencies, strategic/crisis consultants, lobbyists and law firms that currently or previously worked for the PIF.

The slated October 13 hearing should be a good show. The PR world will be watching.

Giving credit where credit is due. Environmental champion Al Gore believes the world has finally mustered the political will to deal with the climate crisis and is nearing the “tipping point” where greenhouse gas missions will peak and then fall.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has much to do with the good news on the climate front. The war triggered the first global energy crisis with soaring prices and fears of supply shortage.

“For many countries, escaping their addiction to Russian fossil fuels converged perfectly with their ambition to switch to clean energy” said the chair of Generation Investment Management upon the Sept. 14 release of its Sustainability Trends Report.

Gore tips his hat to Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which powered a wave of announcements of new electric vehicle manufacturing sites and clean energy development.

Success of the IRA could spell the end of the climate change denier crowd. “The IRA is building a new political constituency for the energy transition which over time could make opposition less tenable,” said Gore, especially in red states where the bulk of the green investments are being made.

Headquartered in London with an office in San Francisco, Generation Investment Management has more than $44B in assets under management.

Sir Martin Kinda Loves Donald. Donald Trump is “not bad for the economy” whatever one may think of him personally, said S4 Capital chief Martin Sorrell, who expects an economic rebound for the communications business in 2024 once the US and UK elections are over.

S4, which has cut 500 jobs in 2023, reported a $28.8 M operating loss during the first-half on a 5.1 percent boost in like-for-like revenues to $552.4M.

“We had a very mixed first half of the year reflecting challenging global macroeconomic conditions and consequent fears of recession, which resulted in client caution to commit and extended sales cycles, particularly for larger projects,” said Sorrell.

S4 cut its full-year profit outlook for the second time during the past few months.

Sorrell has his eye on the long-term. He said S4 has built out its AI vision across all practices. Those efforts will “pay off in future growth as we enter the next wave of ‘software eating the world,'" said the 78-year-old Sorrell.