Rivian’s IPO turned one family’s early investment into an $11.5 billion fortune

A Saudi family that built its business on gasoline-fueled cars is sitting on an almost $11.5 billion fortune after electric truck maker Rivian Automative Inc. surged on its trading debut in 2021’s biggest initial public offering.

Abdul Latif Jameel, a Jeddah-based group named after its founder and today run by his sons, holds almost 114 million shares in Rivian after investing $303 million into the U.S. company, according to the sale prospectus

Rivian’s shares rose as much as 53% Wednesday in New York and closed at $100.73, up 29% from their IPO price of $78. It ended its first day as a public company valued at almost $88 billion. 

Electric vehicle stocks have soared this year amid rising concern about climate change, improving battery technology and higher fuel costs. Tesla Inc. shares have jumped over 51%.

The stake puts Abdul Latif Jameel alongside the biggest backers of Irvine, California-based Rivian, including Amazon.com Inc. and Ford Motor Co. The Saudi company, founded in 1945 as a small trading business, is now better known in its home market as the distributor for Toyota Motor Corp.’s vehicles.

Abdul Latif Jameel’s investment unit acquired warrants for Rivian stock in 2018. It was the first investment by the Saudi company, according to Rivian’s IPO filings, though an article in the magazine of management consultant McKinsey & Co. published in 2020 said it had first invested eight years earlier and became Rivian’s first major investor.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer R.J. Scaringe set up the first iteration of what would become Rivian in 2009 in his home state of Florida. Early work centered around a smaller sports car, which was later shelved in favor of a rugged pickup at the direction of Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel. 

The firm “kept Rivian in stealth” for years, acting as investors but also “working together as partners,” Deputy President and Vice Chairman Hassan Jameel told McKinsey Quarterly. It invested “in tranches and in stages with the management over several years,” he said.

Abdul Latif Jameel isn’t the only Saudi investor to benefit from an early investment in an electric-vehicle manufacturer. The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund put $1 billion into Lucid Group Inc. in 2018, followed by a further $600 million this year as the firm went public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

Tuesday’s offering raised about $11.9 billion for Rivian. The truckmaker earlier marketed 135 million shares at $72 to $74 after elevating that range from $57 to $62, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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