Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on Thursday joined the growing list of high-profile businesses snubbing a Saudi investment conference next week amid mounting pressure on Riyadh over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
A number of top bankers and business leaders, including the chief executives of JP Morgan Chase & Co., Blackstone Group LP, BlackRock Inc. and the chairman of Ford Motor Co., have pulled out of the event in recent days. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday also abandoned plans to attend.
Canada will not be sending anyone to a major investment conference in Saudi Arabia next week, The Canadian Press reported, according to sources it reported as saying Ottawa had never intended to dispatch a delegation this time around.
In an interview with CNBC, Goldman CEO David Solomon said the bank was not sending any senior executives. He said that Dina Powell, a Goldman executive who rejoined the bank earlier this year after serving as an adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, had initially planned to attend but would not go.
“This incident is unacceptable and clearly they have to answer questions specifically regarding this incident,” Mr. Solomon said. “How they answer those questions and how more information becomes apparent will have an impact on how we all interact.”
Other CEOs are still torn over whether to attend. Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser on Tuesday said he had not yet made up his mind whether to attend the event in a country where his company has almost 2,000 employees and had some €1.4-billion ($2.1-billion) in sales in 2017.
“There is a person missing … there is a massive concern. On the other hand, if we skip communicating with countries where people are missing, I just can stay home because I cannot talk to anybody any more,” he said at an event in Toronto.
Media outlets are also boycotting the event. On Thursday, Fox News said it had cancelled its sponsorship of and participation in the event, joining outlets such as CNN, The New York Times and Bloomberg LP.
Goldman began operating in Riyadh in 2009 and obtained new licences in 2014 and 2017 that have allowed it to expand. It bought a portion of oil giant Saudi Aramco’s US$10-billion credit facility last year in an attempt to secure a role in the company’s IPO, which is delayed.
The bank was recently hired by the Saudis’ main sovereign-wealth fund, PIF, to advise on the sale of its majority stake in Saudi petrochemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries Corp. to Aramco, sources have told Reuters.
With a file from The Canadian Press