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Jared Kushner's investment firm to acquire stake in Israeli company

Affinity Partners, which is backed by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, is making its first Israeli investment
Jared Kushner gestures as he attends the annual Future Investment Initiative conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh on 25 October 2022.
Jared Kushner gestures as he attends the Future Investment Initiative conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on 25 October 2022 (AFP)

The private equity firm of Jared Kushner, son-in-law and former senior advisor to Donald Trump, has agreed to its first Israeli acquisition, several news outlets reported on Wednesday.

Kushner's Miami-based Affinity Partners, which is backed by a $2bn investment from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, has purchased a stake in the auto services unit of the Shlomo Group. The purchase is valued at $150m.

“We are bullish on the long-term growth prospects of Israel and the broader new Middle East,” Kushner said, as reported by the Times of Israel. “Shlomo’s historical growth has been rock solid, and the company has many exciting opportunities in its future.”

Kushner launched Affinity Partners after Trump left the White House in 2021, and since then has secured billions in investments from Gulf Arab countries. In addition to the $2bn from Riyadh, he has also received hundreds of millions from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, according to a report by The New York Times.

Kushner developed a close relationship with several senior figures throughout the Middle East, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with whom he has been engaging with for years through emails, text messages, and other forms of contact.

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During his time in the Trump administration, the Saudi royal family gifted Kushner two swords and a dagger worth nearly $48,000, for which he ended up paying the US government after leaving office.

The former Trump advisor's business dealings in the Middle East led to a congressional probe in 2022, in which the Committee on Oversight and Reform launched an investigation to determine whether Kushner leveraged his government position to obtain funds from the Saudi government.

A spokesman for Kushner said at the time that he "abided by all legal and ethical guidelines both during and after his government service". 

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Several news outlets reported earlier this year that Kushner's firm was in talks to invest around $250m for a stake in Israel's Phoenix Insurance Agencies.

The news of the Shlomo acquisition comes amid a push by the Joe Biden administration to secure a normalisation agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel. A delegation of US officials is in Saudi Arabia this week, with Axios reporting that the discussion of a deal between Riyadh and Israel is on the agenda.

A report by the Wall Street Journal in May 2022 said that Affinity Partners' investment in Israel could help lay the groundwork for a normalisation pact between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

While serving in the White House under Trump, Kushner helped negotiate the normalisation agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco.

In March 20221, Kushner wrote in a column in the Wall Street Journal that normalisation between the two countries was "in sight", proclaiming that "we are witnessing the last vestiges of what has been known as the Arab-Israeli conflict".

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