Now is not a good time to put your money in Saudi Arabia, heavyweight emerging markets investor Mark Mobius believes. The founder of Mobius Capital Partners criticized the kingdom on Monday, telling CNBC's Hadley Gamble he sees rough times ahead for the country and its neighbors.
"The Khashoggi murder is a very bad situation, and as far as I'm concerned I don't think we should be investing in Saudi Arabia for that reason unless there is some real big change," Mobius said, referring to the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, for which the government in Riyadh has been blamed.
The kingdom has charged several Saudis for murder, but denies international accusations that its crown prince Mohammed bin Salman had any involvement. A number of investors suspended their investment projects with the kingdom including Virgin CEO Richard Branson, though many others like Blackrock's Larry Fink have pledged to continue business there.
Beyond its reputational issues, however, another pitfall for investors lies in the oil price, Mobius explained.
"If you look at price of oil, it's disastrous for Saudi Arabia, and these other countries that depend on oil prices. I mean we were predicting $100 (a barrel) by the end of last year and now we're at $57 — this range is incredible, it's a disaster," he said.
Saudi Arabia has announced it will cut crude exports to 7.1 million barrels per day (bpd) by end of this month, compared to range of 7.3 to 7.9 million bpd in previous months, in a bid to lift oil prices. OPEC members hope to bring prices $80 per barrel, a far cry from the current $57.44 Brent crude was trading at around 8 a.m. London time.