Jared Kushner’s Saudi-backed firm makes first Israeli investment

The ability by the son-in-law of former president Donald Trump to raise billions in Gulf capital has drawn suspicions that the money was begotten in exchange for his pro-Saudi positions while in the White House.

By Andrew Bernard, The Algemeiner

A private equity firm backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and run by former US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is making a $150 million investment in Shlomo Group, an Israeli conglomerate, in the latest example of growing links between the Saudis and the Jewish state.

Shlomo Group announced the deal on Wednesday, saying that Kushner’s Miami-based Affinity Partners investment group would acquire a 15% stake in its automotive and credit business, which will be rolled into a new subsidiary company.

Kushner’s firm is largely bankrolled by sovereign wealth funds from the Persian Gulf, with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund reportedly contributing $2 billion and Qatar and the United Arab Emirates each contributing another $200 million. In March, Affinity Group’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission revealed that they had a little over $3 billion in assets under management.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is among the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, with more than $700 billion in assets. While most of that is invested domestically in Saudi Arabia, in recent years the fund’s investment arm has disclosed large investments in American companies like KKR and BlackRock that in turn have substantial investments in Israel, particularly in the tech sector.

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Kushner, who was one of the architects of the 2015 Abraham Accords that normalized relations between Israel and several Arab countries, has previously said that he intends to use his fund to create an “investment corridor” between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

“We are bullish on the long-term growth prospects of Israel and the broader new Middle East,” Kushner said in a statement on Wednesday. “Shlomo’s historical growth has been rock solid, and the company has many exciting opportunities in its future.”

Wednesday’s announcement marks the first time that Kushner’s company, which was founded in 2021, has invested in Israel. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that any investment by Kushner in Israel required the personal approval of Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

According to Israeli media, Kushner is looking to make further deals in Israel, including a potential $1 billion investment in Phoenix Insurance Agencies.

Wednesday’s deal provides a glimpse into the scale of potential investment between Israel and Saudi Arabia should the Biden administration succeed in achieving a normalization agreement between the two countries. Since the signing of the Abraham Accords, the UAE and Israel have signed a free trade agreement and inked billions of dollars in trade and investment deals.

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But Kushner’s ability to quickly raise billions in Gulf capital has also drawn criticism from both Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress over the appearance that he gained the money in exchange for his pro-Saudi positions during his father-in-law’s term in the White House

US House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY), for example, said in an interview with CNN last month that Kushner had “crossed the line of ethics” in raising the Saudi cash, while committee ranking member Jamie Raskin (D-MD) last week called for Comer to subpoena Kushner.

“Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s direct personal involvement in ensuring Mr. Kushner received $2 billion from Saudi Arabia’s PIF — plus a $25 million a year management fee — raises the significant possibility that there was a large quid pro quo shaping Mr. Kushner’s official actions in the White House, where he helped dramatically recast US foreign policy toward Saudi Arabia,” Raskin wrote in the letter to Comer. “These and other actions taken by Mr. Kushner both during and after his time in the White House raise significant concerns that he repeatedly and primarily used his role as a senior government official to benefit his own personal financial interests.”