Major Hollywood talent firm mulls return of $400 million Saudi investment

If Endeavor returns the money, it will be among the most significant moves yet by a U.S. company distancing itself from Riyadh.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump emerges with Ari Emanuel after their meeting in the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster
Ari Emanuel after a meeting with Donald Trump at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Nov. 20, 2016.Mike Segar / Reuters file

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
By Claire Atkinson

Endeavor, the holding company for one of Hollywood's most powerful talent and event agencies, is considering returning a $400 million investment from the government of Saudi Arabia following the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to two people familiar with the discussions who were not authorized to speak publicly.

In March, Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund agreed to buy a small stake in the company, according to Bloomberg. There are intense legal discussions taking place about how to unwind the investment, according to one person.

Byers Market Newsletter

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

If Endeavor returns the money, it will be among the most significant moves yet by a U.S. company distancing itself from Saudi Arabia. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the talks.

Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel spoke Monday at television conference in France saying that the situation was "upsetting" and that he was "really concerned." He declined to comment further.

Khashoggi has not been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2. Turkey's government told U.S. officials it had audio and video recordings that proved Khashoggi had been killed.

Earlier this year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Hollywood to discuss ways of diversifying the Saudi Arabian economy.

Endeavor owns talent agency WME, which represents MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. They have been covering the news about Khashoggi's disappearance on their MSNBC show, "Morning Joe."

Endeavor did not immediately return a request for comment.

Other companies including wrestling entertainment company WWE are now under scrutiny for their ties to Saudi Arabia. WWE had planned to expand operations there.

Dylan Byers and Stephanie Ruhle contributed.