These business A-listers are skipping Saudi Arabia’s big conference


Most of the big names who were due to attend Saudi Arabia’s investment conference next week have bailed out following the disappearance and apparent killing of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Thursday he would not attend the conference. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde dropped out on Wednesday, closely followed by the heads of two of France’s biggest banks.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will also visit Saudi Arabia on October 22 for a two-day tour to discuss bilateral issues and also attend the conference, sources said on Thursday.

Wall Street’s biggest names withdrew earlier this week, as did some of Europe’s top executives in finance.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, hasn’t been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Turkish officials have told CNN he was killed inside the consulate. Saudi authorities have so far maintained that Khashoggi left the consulate the same day, but they have provided no evidence to support the claim.

The Saudi conference, known as “Davos in the desert,” is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to transform the oil-dependent economy.

These are the high-profile participants who have already pulled out:

  • US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
  • JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon
  • Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford
  • Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
  • Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman
  • Blackrock CEO Larry Fink
  • MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga
  • Viacom CEO Bob Bakish
  • HSBC CEO John Flint
  • Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam
  • BNP Paribas Chairman Jean Lemierre
  • Societe Generale CEO Frédéric Oudéa
  • Standard Chartered CEO William Winters
  • London Stock Exchange CEO David Schwimmer
  • IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde
  • Glencore Chairman Tony Hayward
  • Thrive CEO Ariana Huffington
  • Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene
  • Sinovation Ventures CEO Kai-Fu Lee
  • World Bank President Jim Yong Kim
  • Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong
  • Economist Editor-in-Chief Zanny Minton Beddoes
  • New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin
  • UK trade minister Liam Fox

The chief executives of a handful of prominent Asian and European companies — some of whom have benefited from hefty Saudi investments — are still planning to attend, or are refusing to talk about their plans.

Here’s a list of big names who are still planning to participate:

  • Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser
  • EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy
  • Thales CEO Patrice Caine

These executives have not yet commented on whether they still plan to attend:

  • SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son
  • Accor CEO Sébastien Bazin