• Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Group are severing their business relationships with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • In a blog post on Virgin Group’s website, Branson announced that Virgin Galatic and Virgin Orbit will suspend its business dealings with the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia.
  • Virgin Group’s space divisions had been in discussions with the PIF for more than $1 billion in investments, Reuters reported.
  • The decision to cut business ties with Saudi Arabia comes after the disappearance of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi from the Saudi Consulate in Turkey last week.

Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Group are severing their business relationships with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey last week.

In a blog post on Virgin Group’s website, the company’s founder announced that Virgin Galatic and Virgin Orbit will suspend its discussions with the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia.

“What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi Government,” Branson said in the post. “We have asked for more information from the authorities in Saudi and to clarify their position in relation to Mr. Khashoggi.”

Virgin Group’s space divisions had been in discussions with the PIF for more than $1 billion in investments, Reuters reported.

In addition, Branson will also suspend his association with two tourism projects on the Red Sea.

Khashoggi has not been seen since visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday to pick up marriage documents. Turkish authorities believe the Washington Post columnist and critic of the Saudi Arabian Government was killed in the consulate. The 59-year-old had been living in exile.

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Here is Sir Richard’s blog post in its entirety:

I had high hopes for the current government in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and it is why I was delighted to accept two directorships in the tourism projects around the Red Sea. I felt that I could give practical development advice and also help protect the precious environment around the coastline and islands.

What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi Government. We have asked for more information from the authorities in Saudi and to clarify their position in relation to Mr Khashoggi.

While those investigations are ongoing and Mr Khashoggi’s presence is not known, I will suspend my directorships of the two tourism projects. Virgin will also suspend its discussions with the Public Investment Fund over the proposed investment in our space companies Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit.