J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman and now MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga will not be attending an investment conference in Saudi Arabia later this month, CNBC has learned.
J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon , BlackRock CEO Larry Fink , Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman and now MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga will not be attending an investment conference in Saudi Arabia later this month, CNBC has learned, amid concerns about the disappearance and suspected killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi .
The news came just hours after another top executive, Ford Motor Chairman Bill Ford, announced he too would not be attending the Future Investment Initiative (FII), also known as “Davos in the Desert,” which is scheduled for Oct. 23 to 25.
At least another half dozen executives are expected to bow out Monday, CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin reported, citing sources.
Dimon, Fink, and Schwarzman spent the weekend trying to get the conference cancelled or postponed, the sources said, adding they reached out to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for cover and the Public Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund owned by Saudi Arabia and co-host of FII, with an appeal to put the conference aside.
The idea from Dimon, Fink, and Schwarzman was to give the Saudis 12 hours postpone it before they pulled out, the sources said.
At this point, the conference has not been postponed, but sources said there are questions within the Kingdom on whether they’re going to have to cancel.
Mnuchin on CNBC Friday said he had still planned on attending the conference.
“We are concerned about what is the status of Mr Khashoggi ,” Mnuchin told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore . “If more information comes out and changes, we could look at that, but I am planning on going.”
On Sunday, top Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow told ABC’s “This Week” that Mnuchin told him Saturday night he still intends to go, “because of the importance of the issue of ending terrorist financing.”
The White House referred CNBC to Treasury for comment. Treasury was not immediately available.
Meanwhile, several executives and media outlets — including CNBC, Financial Times, CNN and The New York Times — have withdrawn from the event.
The Future Investment Initiative is designed to highlight Saudi Arabia’s importance on the global stage, especially with investors.
The withdrawal of a major Wall Street CEO is a significant setback .
However, International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde was among those over the weekend who said they still plan to attend the event.
Khashoggi, a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi royal family, was last seen Oct. 2 when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Saudi Arabia has denied it was involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance. Turkey has reportedly informed the U.S. that it has video and audio evidence showing Khashoggi, who wrote for The Washington Post, was killed inside the consulate.
Khashoggi had been living in the United States as a voluntary exile from Saudi Arabia.
— CNBC’s Wilfred Frost, Andrew Ross Sokin, Yen Nee Lee, and Mike Calia contributed to this report.