Date
23 May 2018
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is said to be encouraging talks between Aramco and Alphabet for a potential tech joint venture in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Reuters
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is said to be encouraging talks between Aramco and Alphabet for a potential tech joint venture in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Reuters

Google parent, Aramco in talks to build Saudi tech hub: report

Alphabet, the parent of company Google, is in talks with Saudi state oil giant Aramco about jointly building a large technology hub in Saudi Arabia, according to the Wall Street Journal.

As part of the potential joint venture, Alphabet will help Aramco establish data centers within the oil-rich kingdom, the paper said, citing people familiar with the matter. ​

It isn’t clear specifically whose data the centers will house or who will control them, the Journal said.

The size of the potential joint venture is also not known, although it could be big enough to become listed on Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange, a source was quoted as saying.

Senior executives at Aramco and Alphabet are said to have been in talks for months on the potential joint venture.

The talks have included Alphabet CEO Larry Page and have been encouraged by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who wants to bring more tech expertise to the kingdom, according to the sources.

The Journal noted that an alliance between two of the world’s biggest companies could help bolster the development of the technology sector in Saudi Arabia, a goal that Prince Mohammed has pointed to as a key part of his plan to wean the country off its reliance on oil.

Aramco is in the middle of planning for an initial public offering that the Saudi government has pegged for this year, though it is unclear whether it will get done in that time frame.

Prince Mohammed has said the proceeds from the IPO will be used to invest outside of the oil industry.

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RC

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