We hear a lot of talk from financial firms about environmental, social and governance investing (ESG). Yet Saudi Aramaco owned by the repressive Saudi government has issued one of the most successful bond deals ever. Saudi Aramaco was looking to raise $10 billion but got more than $100 billion in bids so ended up deciding to take $12 billion. Saudi Aramco is already the most profitable company in the world.
How quickly some have chosen to forget the October 2, 2018 murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by Saudi agents. As CNBC put it: “Khashoggi’s killing sparked concerns that international investors would shun the kingdom, but bond buyers do not appear ready to overlook an investment opportunity in Saudi Arabia — the world’s largest oil exporter.”
Nor are investors moved by the unlawful airstrikes in Yemen that have killed and wounded thousands of civilians. The crackdown on dissidents, human rights activists, and independent clerics hasn’t given investors, hungry for money, any pause either. It’s hard not to be cynical sometimes in this world.