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US production company quietly receives Saudi money: Report

The US-based production company AGBO quietly receives at least $50 million cash infusion from Saudi Arabia amid concerns about its human rights record.

A report says the US-based production company AGBO, which is led by the Russo brothers, has quietly received at least $50 million cash infusion from Saudi Arabia amid concerns about the kingdom’s human rights record.

American media outlet Variety cited a number of sources as saying that Anthony Russo and Joseph Russo, the directors of the highest-grossing movie of all time ‘Avengers: Endgame’, secured the Saudi money as part of a deal reached at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.

Under the deal, the Russos received the investment from an undisclosed Saudi bank in exchange for a minority stake in the brothers’ Los Angeles-based shop, the report said.

The Riyadh’s government has stakes in the Persian Gulf kingdom’s banks.

According to the report, a familiar source said a bank investment versus cash from the Saudi public funds was “a distinction without a difference”.

Variety also quoted one insider as saying that the Saudi money is “a one-time cash infusion”, while another source said the investment was “much higher than $50 million”.

The Russos’ move to turn to Saudi Arabia for cash infusion comes amid huge controversy over the kingdom’s involvement in western media following the 2018 killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which tarnished the international reputation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

The Washington Post, where Khashoggi was a columnist, reported in November 2018 that the CIA had concluded that bin Salman personally ordered the murder.

Following Khashoggi’s murder, Hollywood agency Endeavor sent a $400 million investment back to Saudi Arabia.

Many premium media corporations, including Viacom and Uber, also boycotted a 2019 business conference set in Saudi Arabia, known as “Davos in the Desert”.

SQ/MM

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