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Anthropic, a leading artificial intelligence startup, is garnering interest from deep-pocketed investors, including sovereign wealth funds. However, the company has decided to exclude Saudi Arabia from the list of potential new backers due to national security concerns. Anthropic’s stake is up for sale as part of FTX’s bankruptcy proceedings, with proceeds intended to repay FTX customers. The sale is expected to wrap up in the next couple of weeks, with the class B shares being sold at Anthropic’s last valuation of $18.4 billion.

Founded by Dario and Daniela Amodei, Anthropic has raised significant funding from tech giants like Amazon and Alphabet, positioning itself as a key player in the AI space. The founders, who were introduced to FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried through a philosophy of effective altruism, have the right to challenge potential investors. However, they are not directly involved in the current fundraising process. The founders have indicated they will not accept Saudi money but are open to funding from other sovereign wealth funds, such as the UAE-based Mubadala fund.

The sale of FTX’s stake in Anthropic involves a syndicate of new investors, with special purpose vehicles (SPVs) being used to facilitate multiple investors pooling capital. Investment bank Perella Weinberg is handling the sale on behalf of FTX. While representatives from Anthropic and Perella Weinberg declined to comment on the sale, the potential involvement of Mubadala and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) remains uncertain. The PIF, with assets exceeding $900 billion, has been actively investing in technology to diversify Saudi Arabia’s revenue away from oil, including potential partnerships with venture firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Concerns over national security, particularly regarding dual-use technology that could have military applications, may be contributing to Anthropic’s decision to exclude Saudi Arabia from potential investments. Saudi Arabia’s ties with China and its human rights record have also been sources of contention with Western partners. The kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 Initiative, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aims to modernize the economy and strengthen ties in global finance. However, events such as the alleged killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 have sparked international backlash.

In a separate development, Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX, was convicted of criminal counts related to the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange. Prosecutors have recommended a significant prison sentence, further complicating the ongoing sale of FTX’s stake in Anthropic. The outcome of Bankman-Fried’s sentencing could impact the overall proceedings and potential investors in Anthropic. Despite these challenges, Anthropic remains a key player in the AI industry, with significant investments from tech giants and ongoing interest from investors seeking to capitalize on the company’s growth potential.

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