Endeavor — the parent company that owns the UFC — have officially severed ties to Saudi Arabia after returning a $400 million investment from the Middle Eastern country.
According to a report from the New York Times, Endeavor, headed up by co-CEO Ari Emanuel, opted to return to the investment following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi that took place last year.
Immediately after Saudi Arabia was implicated in Khashoggi’s murder, Endeavor started moving towards returning the investment that was made from the Saudi Public Investment fund that was supposed to help the Hollywood based company continue their expansion. On top of being one of the biggest talent agencies in Hollywood, Endeavor also owns several other businesses including the over $1 billion purchase of the UFC in 2016.
Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has been aggressively attempting to diversify the country’s investments outside of the fossil fuel industry while putting a lot of money into entertainment companies.
Now Endeavor has completely shut down their relationship with Saudi Arabia with the return of the $400 million investment.
According to the report, Endeavor also reached out to additional investors to help fill the gaps left from returning the money to Saudi Arabia.
In response to the decision to return the money, Emanuel also reportedly began traveling with bodyguards out of concern that there may be some kind of retaliation from Saudi Arabia after rebuking their investment.
While numerous American businesses had expressed concern or outrage over Saudi Arabia’s alleged involvement in the murder of Khashoggi, nearly all of them are still doing business with the country in some form or fashion.
Endeavor will not be one of them now that they have returned the $400 million investment while essentially cutting all ties to Saudi Arabia and their public investment fund.