Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski was finally ready to talk about one of his consulting clients, which included meetings with top executives of a high-tech Saudi Arabian city largely financed by a government-run investment fund.
During a virtual press conference Wednesday Stefanowski explained he was confronted with documents obtained by CT Insider about his work on a green-energy project in the Arab country. He called his clients and asked for permission to talk about his consulting work.
An expert on mergers and acquisitions, Stefanowski has been consulting since 2019 for NEOM, which is a backed by investments from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He declined to disclose who he’s talked to in the Saudi government as part of his work.
Essentially, Stefanowski is working on the details of a merger between Air Products, Inc. based in Allentown, Pennsylvania and two Saudi companies – ACWA Power and NEOM to build the largest green hydrogen facility in the world.
Stefanowski, who is running against Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, had previously deflected questions about his ties to the Saudi government and declined to share a list of his consulting clients due to non-disclosure agreements.
“I don’t think this really does matter to the voters of Connecticut,” Stefanowski said.
But he said he’s happy to be talking about his work because NEOM, a “smart city” being built in the Saudi desert that is funded largely by the nation’s sovereign wealth fund. The city will house one of the largest green hydrogen facilities in the world.
“I’m not concerned about the political blowback, I’m more concerned about living up to the agreement I have with my clients,” Stefanowski. “I’m working on one of the largest renewable energy projects in the world.”
The overall project, which has sparked the interest of Lamont’s friend, Ray Dalio, founder of the largest hedge fund in the world – Bridgewater Associates – has also received praise from United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.
“I think Gov. Lamont needs to be very, very careful here about not being hypocritical,” Stefanowski said.
Lamont’s campaign has not commented on the disclosure of Stefanowski’s Saudi client. In the past, he has said Stefanowski should disclose his clients, but Stefanowski said his non-disclosures prevented him from doing that.
Stefanwoski said the voters shouldn’t care and if Lamont wants to make an issue out of his consulting business for one of the biggest green energy projects in the world then it’s because he doesn’t want to talk about how Connecticut is unaffordable.
“I don’t think a lot of this does matter to the residents of Connecticut,” Stefanowski said.
What about the human rights violations of the Saudi government?
Stefanowski said he is concerned about human rights, but he’s comfortable with this client because of the project he’s working on and it’s importance to reducing emissions.
Stefanowski said this is what global executives do, they look at specific investments and this project is “going to do more good for the world than any other project out there.”
“I have no bad feelings about being involved in this project whatsoever,” Stefanowski said. “This is a noble project that’s going to help reduce global warming and it’s a good thing.”
As far as his current involvement in the project, Stefanowski said he still takes a few phone calls per week.
“I’ve scaled it down significantly, but I do take calls occasionally,” he added.
He said it’s a difficult project because it’s a three-way merger. Stefanowski has written two books on mergers and acquisitions.
Asked if he’s met with the crowned prince, he declined to say who he’s met with for the project due to the constraints of his NDA.
“I can’t comment on specific meetings,” Stefanowski said.
He also was unable to quantify how many hours he’s spent on the project.