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18th of November 2018

Economy



More bank chiefs pull out of Saudi event

The chief executives of three big banks have become the latest bosses to pull out of a conference in Saudi Arabia.

HSBC's John Flint, Tidjane Thiam of Credit Suisse and Bill Winters of Standard Chartered will not be going.

Diane Greene, who runs Google's cloud division, Mastercard's Ajay Banga and JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon have also all pulled out of the event in Riyadh.

It follows tensions between the US and Saudi Arabia over the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance.

A critic of the government, Mr Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post, vanished on 2 October after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Authorities there believe he was killed in the building by Saudi agents, an accusation that the Saudi authorities have dismissed as "lies".

HSBC and Credit Suisse were two of the event's eight strategic partners.

BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink, Ford chairman Bill Ford and Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi are among others who will now not be attending the Future Investment Initiative event in Riyadh.

Britain and the US are also considering boycotting the event, while others distancing themselves include Sir Richard Branson, who has halted talks over a $1bn (£756m) Saudi investment in Virgin space firms.

An introduction to the conference on its official website says it "will immerse thousands of delegates from all over the world in a rich agenda".

The event is in its second year and more than 150 speakers from some 140 organisations were due to attend, but at least 15 have so far withdrawn.

A page with a list of confirmed speakers has been deleted from the website for the conference, which runs from 23 to 25 October.

George Atta, global smart city leader at Ernst Young; Siemens chief executive Joe Kaesar; Mohmood Khan, vice-chairman of PepsiCo; and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are among delegates still planning to attend.

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