INTERNATIONAL – SoftBank Group is planning to develop a $1.2 billion ( R16 bn)solar power plant in Saudi Arabia, even as it faces growing scrutiny over its relationship with the kingdom, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The plant, to the north of Riyadh, would generate 1.8 gigawatts of power, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plans are private. SoftBank has started preliminary talks with banks and developers to gauge interest in the facility, they said.
Plans for the facility are at an early stage and SoftBank may decide to change the size of the plant or not proceed with it, the people said. The plant would be a pilot project for Saudi Arabia’s wider plans to build more solar power facilities, they said.
SoftBank has faced criticism over its relationship with Saudi Arabia in the wake of the murder of government critic Jamal Khashoggi. Last month, the kingdom admitted Khashoggi had been killed inside its consulate in Istanbul, prompting international outrage. The country’s Public Investment Fund is the largest investor in SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund as Masayoshi Son forged personal ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
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