Endeavor has completed the process of returning a $400 million investment to the Saudi Public Investment Fund, in protest of the murder of dissent journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Variety has confirmed.
Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel began to unwind the deal in October, two weeks after Khashoggi disappeared at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Khashoggi had written a series of columns critical of the Saudi regime for the Washington Post. The killing sparked international outrage, and U.S. intelligence agencies concluded it had been ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Prince Mohammed chairs the Public Investment Fund, a Saudi sovereign wealth fund that has made a number of investments in U.S. tech firms, including a sizable stake in Uber. The PIF has also invested in Penske Media Corporation, the parent company of Variety.
Bin Salman made a much-publicized tour of the U.S. last spring, aiming to drum up foreign investment and pitching a progressive vision for the future of the Saudi economy. He held a dinner at Rupert Murdoch’s house and met with Jeff Bezos and Oprah Winfrey. He also won praise for lifting a ban on theaters in the kingdom.
Appearing on stage in October, Emanuel said he was “concerned” by the Khashoggi situation. It took several months for the other Endeavor investors to refund the PIF investment, with each investor paying on a pro-rata basis. Endeavor declined to comment on the story, which was first reported by the New York Times.