GE says to double Saudi workforce as economy reforms
DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia won support for its economic reform plan from one of the world's biggest companies on Monday as General Electric Co (GE) (GE.N: Quote) said it would double its workforce in the kingdom to 4,000 people by 2020.
GE will cooperate with the government's Saudi Arabian Industrial Investments Co (SAIIC) to develop joint ventures that boost Saudi industrial capacity, chief executive Jeffrey Immelt said in a statement during a visit to the kingdom.
SAIIC was established in 2014 with capital of 2 billion riyals ($533 million) as a venture between some of the country's most powerful institutions: the Public Investment Fund (PIF), national oil firm Saudi Aramco and government-controlled Saudi Basic Industries Corp 2010.SE.
Under reforms announced by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last month, the PIF is to be developed into a $2 trillion sovereign fund that creates jobs and jump-starts new industries with strategic investments that reduce Saudi Arabia's reliance on oil exports.
Immelt said GE was working on several new projects in Saudi Arabia as part of the reform drive, including a $400 million forging and casting venture with Aramco that would supply materials to the marine and energy industries. The facility will be operating by 2020, creating over 2,000 jobs, he said.
GE is also developing a maintenance facility for military aviation engines and a manufacturing facility for light-emitting diode (LED) lighting products, as well as training, biotechnology and radiology operations, he added.
The projects will help increase the number of Saudi suppliers to GE to 300 from 150, as the company aims eventually to export more than $100 million of products and services annually from Saudi Arabia, it said.
(Reporting by Andrew Torchia; editing by Adrian Croft)
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