Virgin Hyperloop reportedly loses $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabia after Richard Branson pulls out of 'Davos in the Desert'

bransonAlex Wong/Getty Images

  • Saudi Arabia has walked away from its $1 billion Virgin Hyperloop investment, the Financial Times reports.
  • The move comes after Virgin Group chairman Richard Branson said he would suspend working with the Kingdom in the wake of Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance.
  • Swaths of US executives have declined to attend the Future Investment Initiative conference next week.

Saudi Arabia has pulled its $1 billion investment in Virgin Hyperloop One in response to the company joining droves of others who pulled out of the Kingdom's Future Investment Initiative - colloquially known as "Davos in the Desert" - following the disappearance and possible murder of a naturalized US citizen and Washington Post columnist, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.

Virgin Hyperloop One, one iteration of Elon Musk's visionary Hyperloop transportation project, unveiled its first pod prototype earlier this year. Saudi Arabia is one one of its most important backers, and heralded the project as one that could "enable all 4th-generation technologies to flourish in the Kingdom."

A spokesperson for Hyperloop One said the company "did not have a contract signed nor have we been notified that the contract is cancelled," adding that they have asked the paper to publish a correction. There has been no such correction.

On Thursday of last week, as evidence was mounting that Saudi officials were believed to have killed the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggiat the Kingdom's consulate in Istanbul, Branson joined the likes of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and others in pulling out of the conference.

"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," Branson said in a blog post published October 11.

"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."

You can read everything we know about the troubling disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi here.

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