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Endeavor Exploring Withdrawal From $400 Million Saudi Deal

Jamal Khashoggi

Endeavor is exploring the possibility of backing out of its $400 million deal with the Saudi Public Investment Fund, Variety has confirmed.

The move comes in response to the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident columnist who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. Turkish officials have reported that Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate and dismembered, a charge the Saudis have denied.

Endeavor, the parent company of WME and UFC, has been examining dissolving the financial pact that would have secured the kingdom a minority overall stake. The company negotiated the deal in January, as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman embarked on an ambitious plan to invest in Hollywood and develop a domestic entertainment economy.

But in the wake of Khashoggi’s disappearance, many media and entertainment companies have been distancing themselves from the kingdom. (The PIF is also an investor in Variety parent company Penske Media Corporation.)

On stage at Mipcom in Cannes on Monday, Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel said he was “personally concerned” about the situation.

“Listen, I am concerned,” he said. “We are concerned. On the face of it it’s upsetting, and we are monitoring the situation right now.”

Endeavor declined to comment on the matter.

The news was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.