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US companies invited to bid for developing Saudi N-plant – Falih says nuclear ambitions restricted to civilian uses

RIYADH, Dec 4, (RTRS): Saudi Arabia has invited US firms to take part in developing its civilian nuclear power programme, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday, adding the kingdom was not interested in diverting nuclear technology to military use.

Reuters has reported that Westinghouse is in talks with other US-based companies to form a consortium for a multi-billion-dollar project to build two reactors and that those firms are pushing Washington to restart talks with Riyadh on a civil nuclear cooperation pact.

Falih said Saudi Arabia was committed to restricting nuclear technology to civilian use.

“Not only are we not interested in any way to diverting nuclear technology to military use, we are very active in non-proliferation by others,” he said at a joint news conference with US Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

KACARE, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, is the Saudi government agency tasked with the nuclear plans. It said last month on its website that it was in talks with Toshiba-owned Westinghouse and France’s EDF.

“We hope that the two paths will converge – the commercial, technical discussions between KACARE and the American companies, while we work with our counterparts on the American side to address the regulatory and policy issues,” Falih said.

Perry, who is on his first official visit to Saudi Arabia and will go on to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar this week, said it was “a bit premature” to comment on the negotiations.

Washington usually requires a country to sign a peaceful nuclear cooperation pact – known as a 123 agreement – that blocks steps in fuel production with potential bomb-making uses.

In previous talks, Saudi Arabia has refused to sign up to any agreement that would deprive it of the possibility of one day enriching uranium.

The world’s top oil exporter says it wants nuclear power to diversify its energy mix allowing it to export more crude rather than burning it to generate electricity. It has not yet acquired nuclear power or enrichment technology.


DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Stock Exchange said on Monday it has hired US group Nasdaq to replace its 16-year-old registry, depository and settlement infrastructure as it tackles challenges including the forthcoming listing of Saudi Aramco.

The kingdom is rapidly developing its stock market, which has a capitalisation of about $450 billion, to attract foreign capital as it seeks to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil.

The Saudi government aims to raise tens of billions of dollars by selling about 5 percent of national oil giant Saudi Aramco in the second half of 2018, in what could be the world’s biggest initial public offering.

Officials also aim to introduce trading of government and corporate bonds, and told Reuters in April that the exchange should be ready for equity futures and options in about 24 months, after completing reforms to help it manage the risks.

The Nasdaq technology, which is due to be installed by the end of 2020, will create a new central counterparty clearing system for the market, the Saudi exchange said. It did not disclose the value of the agreement with Nasdaq.

The government has said it intends to list Aramco shares in Riyadh and at least one foreign market, but the Saudi exchange’s chief executive said last month that it hoped to be the exclusive venue for the listing, and that it was working hard to convince Aramco of the advantages of such a move.

DUBAI: Banque Saudi Fransi (BSF), facing a potential fine over irregularities in an employee incentive programme, has appointed new heads of compliance and audit, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Abdulaziz al-Bani, previously senior director of compliance at Al Rajhi Bank, recently joined Saudi Arabia’s fifth largest lender by assets as chief compliance officer, the source said.

Al-Bani’s LinkedIn page said he had joined the bank in November. Abdulmohsen al-Rayes, previously at Arab National Bank , recently joined BSF as chief audit executive, according to the source and al-Rayes’s LinkedIn page.

The source said the hires were part of a restructuring of all departments at the bank that started in 2016.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) said last month that BSF could be fined due to violations in the employee incentive programme and that the bank was taking legal action against individuals to recover funds taken under the scheme.

The bank also said on Nov 15 it had dismissed Chief Executive Patrice Couvegnes in coordination with the central bank and other regulatory bodies.

Kingdom Holding agreed in September to buy about half of French bank Credit Agricole’s 31.1 percent stake in BSF for 5.76 billion riyals ($1.54 billion).

Kingdom’s chairman Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal is among business people and other senior officials detained under a recent anti-corruption campaign led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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