October 4, 2017 / 12:28 PM / in 20 days

Russia, Saudi Arabia to set up $1 bln technology fund

LONDON, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Russia and Saudi Arabia plan to set up a $1 billion fund to invest in technology, the chief executive of a sovereign Russian wealth fund said on Wednesday.

The joint venture is the latest in a series of deals expected to be signed during a visit to Russia by King Salman this week, the first to Moscow by a reigning Saudi monarch.

Other deals include a $1 billion fund to invest in energy projects and Saudi investment in Russian toll roads, including a new one in Moscow to relieve congestion.

Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said on a press call that the two countries would seek areas of synergy between Russia and Saudi Arabia and aim to exploit their “unique technologies”.

He cited desalination technologies and energy efficiency for air conditioning, and also highlighted Russia’s largest tech company Yandex, which specialises in internet-related services and products.

“Yandex is an interesting company for us because it is already present in the Middle East and Turkey and it has a search engine that beats Google in the Russian market by a large margin,” Dmitriev said.

The fund will also look at relevant investments outside Russia and Saudi, he added.

Saudi Arabia’s main sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund has already invested in the SoftBank Vision Fund, a technology-focused private equity fund established with the Japanese company and other big investors.

Meanwhile, the RDIF has invested in Hyperloop One, which is developing an advanced transport system. (Reporting by Claire Milhench; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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