Public Investment Fund head wants books shielded

The head of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has been granted “sovereign immunity” as LIV Golf’s lawyers seek to reveal the PGA Tour’s organizational structure and financial affairs as part of an antitrust lawsuit.

Bloomberg News reported that PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayan on Tuesday asked a federal judge in California to throw out the PGA Tour’s request to compel the guidelines and a lawsuit accusing LIV of unfair competition to offer lucrative contracts to players. to breach their PGA contracts.

In August, the original suit filed by Phil Mickelson and 10 other golfers was taken over by LIV Golf, under the PIF umbrella.

However, officials at the Saudi firm said they would retain high-level control over LIV Golf and would not be involved in day-to-day operations. The filing also said the move could set a “dangerous precedent” if PIF had to disclose its books, as the company could be ripe for similar requests in lawsuits filed against companies it owns and has investments in, including Walmart and Starbucks. Established in 1971 as a vehicle for the Saudi government to invest in various projects and companies, the wealth fund is currently estimated to be worth $676 billion.

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“Now that LIV (Golf) is being filmed, I don’t need to be involved,” Mickelson said when he left the suit in September. “The only reason I’m staying is the (money) loss, I don’t need anything. I think it’s important that players have the right to play when and where they want. Now that LIV (Golf) is a part of it, if and when they win it will happen.”

original claim received by Golf Weeksays:

As Tour’s monopoly power grew, it used its dominance to create an arsenal of anticompetitive restrictions to protect its longstanding monopoly. Now, LIV Golf, Inc. (“LIV Golf”) has attempted to harm the careers and lives of all golfers, including plaintiffs Phil Mickelson, Talor Gooch, Hudson, and the tour, which is at risk of entry and is completely contrary to its founding mission. Swafford, Matt Jones, Bryson DeChambeau, Abraham Unser, Carlos Ortiz, Ian Poulter, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrak and Peter Wihlein (“Plaintiffs”) are willing to challenge the Tour and play in tournaments organized by the rookie. The Tour did this deliberately and relentlessly, crushing the nascent competition before it threatened the Tour’s monopoly.

The PGA Tour then filed a 32-page response to the original lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, as well as a separate seven-page set of examples of alleged mischaracterizations and misrepresentations by LIV players.

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It then filed a counterclaim in September seeking damages for brand and reputational damage.

While LIV claims the Tour uses monopoly power and illegally suspended players, the Tour’s countersuit alleges LIV used players “and the game of golf to wash the sport of Saudi Arabia’s recent history of atrocities and further the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s Vision 2030 initiatives.”

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LIV Golf has long been criticized as a way to wash away the Kingdom’s human rights record with guaranteed money and multi-million dollar contracts. Saudi Arabia has been accused of widespread human rights abuses, including politically motivated killings, torture, enforced disappearances and inhumane treatment of detainees. And members of the royal family and the government of Saudi Arabia have been accused of involvement in the death of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

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