Saudi Arabia says plans $100 billion tech fund with Japan's Softbank

By Andrew Torchia
People walk behind the logo of SoftBank Corp in Tokyo December 18, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia, seeking to develop its economy beyond oil exports, plans to create a global technology investment fund with Japan's SoftBank group <9984.T> that could grow as large as $100 billion, Saudi state media reported on Friday.

The plan is one of a series of dramatic business initiatives launched by Riyadh this year as Saudi Arabia, its economy hurt by low oil prices, deploys its huge financial reserves in an effort to move into non-oil industries.

SoftBank will invest about $25 billion in the fund over five years, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is leading the kingdom's economic reform drive, told state television.

The Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia's top sovereign wealth fund, may invest up to $45 billion in the fund over that period, state news agency SPA quoted a memorandum of understanding signed with SoftBank as saying.

Several other large investors are in talks on their possible participation and could bring the total size of the new fund up to $100 billion, SPA added without naming the other investors.

That could make the new fund the world's largest focused exclusively on technology, giving it unprecedented clout to do deals in the sector.

"With the establishment of the SoftBank Vision Fund, we will be able to step up investments in technology companies globally. Over the next decade, the SoftBank Vision Fund will be the biggest investor in the technology sector," SPA quoted SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son as saying.

The fund would be managed in Britain by a subsidiary of SoftBank.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi in Jerusalem, Ali Abdelatti in Cairo and William Maclean in Dubai)