October 16, 2018 / 4:19 PM / a month ago

BNP Paribas's chairman cancels attendance at Saudi Arabia's investment conference

PARIS (Reuters) - BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) Chairman Jean Lemierre cancelled his attendance at an investment conference in Saudi Arabia next week amid widespread concern about the fate of a Saudi journalist and the withdrawal of many other senior executives.

A BNP Paribas spokeswoman said Lemierre “will not be attending the Future Investment Initiative” in Riyadh on Oct. 23-25, but declined to specify why he had cancelled.

Lemierre is the first French executive to pull out of the event. Rival bank Societe Generale’s chief executive Frederic Oudea, who is listed as a speaker on the conference website, is still scheduled to attend. Virginie Morgan, the CEO of French investment firm Eurazeo, is also scheduled to speak.

Pressure has been mounting on executives to cancel since prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi policies, went missing.

He was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkey believes he was murdered and his body removed. Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement.

Several top executives from U.S. and European companies have cancelled, including JP Morgan & Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon and the CEOs of BlackRock, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse.

Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Mathieu Rosemain

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