Saudi Arabia’s PIF holds ‘significant stakes’ in electric motorsport series

Sovereign wealth fund using Formula E, Extreme E and E1 Series as a vehicle for its own green energy goals.
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  • PIF owns US$7m stake in Formula E
  • Sovereign wealth controls half of both Extreme E and E1 Series

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) holds significant shares in major electric motorsport series, as reported by Bloomberg.

As motorsport focuses more and more on a sustainable future, interest from the sovereign wealth fund, which has total estimated assets of US$776 billion, has only increased.

Currently, PIF holds 5.5 per cent of Hong Kong-based Formula E’s B-preferred shares and 9.6 per cent of its ordinary shares, which equates to €6.3 million (US$6.9 million).

It is also worth noting that the series has signed a principal partnership with Sabic, a subsidiary of state-owned oil company Aramco, and an airline partnership with Saudi Arabia’s flag carrier Saudia.

Furthermore, Formula E’s chief executive Jeff Dodds has noted that Saudi Arabia would be a valuable source of investment in the future.

“If they’re interested in investing in sport, sustainability and innovation, and we have a great relationship with them, obviously we would have conversations with them,” Dodds told Bloomberg.

This would be of particularly interest to Formula E following its most recently published accounts showing a €65 million (US$70.8 million) loss for the year ending 31st December 2022.

Outside of Formula E, PIF holds considerable shares in both Extreme E and E1 Series. For the former, PIF controls all the preferred A ordinary shares, equating to 55 per cent of the total share value, worth around €50 million (US$54.5 million). For the latter, PIF owns 50 per cent of the total number of shares.

Saudi Arabia has featured on the Formula E calendar since 2018, hosted the historic Dakar Rally since 2020, and kicked off the Extreme E season since 2021. It will also act as the host of E1 Series’ debut event next month.

Furthermore, the Saudi Motorsport Company (SMC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Dorna Sports in 2022 geared towards hosting a future MotoGP race in Saudi Arabia.

It was rumoured that PIF bid US$20 billion to purchase Formula One from Liberty Media last year, but this was put down as ‘purely speculation’ by the country’s sports minister. Saudi Arabia’s main involvement in the series is through its ten-year, US$650 million contract to host the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and Aramco’s global partnership with Formula One.

BlackBook says…

It’s not surprising to see such heavy involvement from PIF, especially given how much the sustainable strides made in certain series align with Saudi Arabia’s own objectives.

The Neom smart city is wholly owned by PIF and is partnered with McLaren’s Formula E and Extreme E teams. With Extreme E set to become Extreme H from next season, expect to see increased focus in this area as the series becomes a technological testbed for hydrogen power – especially with Neom set to house the world’s largest green hydrogen facility.

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