The Saudi royal family is looking to extend its footprint in the world beyond its dependency on oil, they have their eyes on Hollywood and are counting on powerful lobbyists to assist them.
The Saudi’s would love to be a part of “Jewish Hollywood” apparently.
Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund that aims to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependency on oil has engaged a top K Street firm to lobby for approval of future acquisitions in the U.S., according to a March 8 filing with the Justice Department, Bloomberg reported.
Saudi Arabia is looking to acquire a stake in Endeavor, a global leader in sports, entertainment and fashion; 10% with an estimated value between $400 million and $500 million.
Endeavor is the holding company for Hollywood talent agency WME.
Key executives of Endeavor include CEO Ari Emanuel and Executive Chairman Patrick Whitesell..
Some of their Hollywood clients include Ben and Casey Affleck, Kevin Bacon, Michael Bay, Dakota Fanning, Jack Black, Kevin Costner, Matt Damon and dozens other of Hollywood titans.
If this acquisition occurs it will indeed be a strange mix of Saudi Royal businessmen and “Hollywood Jews”.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will pay the firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP up to $535,000 through May 1 for legal services and outreach to government officials, Bloomberg reported. Akin Gump will focus on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which reviews foreign acquisitions of U.S. businesses, according to the filings.
According to the filings, made under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, two Akin Gump partners and two employees will work for the Saudi fund.
Geoffrey Verhoff, a top fundraiser for the Republican National Committee and a regional vice-chairman of the party’s finance team will be representing the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Public Investment Fund.
The Saudis interest in Hollywood started shortly after Saudi Arabia lifted a 35-year ban on movie theaters, as part of a broader modernization push led by the reform-minded crown prince, LA Times reported.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reform program called “Vision 2030” is billed as a strategy to open the country’s economy and relax social strictures on its youthful populace.
Hollywood executives see Saudi Arabia as a potentially lucrative market for films because of its large and predominantly young population that has had little access to entertainment, LA times explained.
Two-thirds of Saudi Arabia’s population is under 30 years old, a great demographic for the movie exhibition industry, which has seen sagging numbers in the US movie-houses due to the rising popularity of streaming entertainment online.
The Kingdom has already partnered with Florida based luxury cinema operator IPic Entertainment to develop cinemas and restaurants throughout Saudi Arabia.
With movie exhibition under their belt, a major talent agency such as Endeavor is the next giant step in the Saudi kingdom’s quest for Hollywood.
By Artie Weinberger