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Saudi petrochem giant opens tech centre in Bangalore
Friday November 29, 2013 9:56 PM, IANS

Saudi Arabia's $50 billion diversified petro-chemicals major Sabic Friday opened its technology centre in this tech hub for research in chemistry, material science, process engineering and analytics.

Saudi Prince Saud bin Abdullah bin Thenayana Al-Saud unveiled the $100-million (Rs.620 crore) technology centre, spread over 46 acres in the city's southern suburb.

Ranking among the world's top firms in the field, Sabic -- formally called Saudi Basic Industries Corp -- is a diversified manufacturing company, active in chemicals and intermediates, industrial polymers, fertilisers and metals.

"As a strategic centre of excellence, the research facility will cater to global and regional needs of our diversified customers," Sabic chief executive Mohamed H. Al-Mady said on the occasion.

Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Srikant Kumar Jena and union Minister of Minority Affairs Rahman Khan were present on the occasion.

As part of Sabic's 17 global research and development centres, the Bangalore facility will conduct innovative research in many related fields, including products and processes for its global customers, with 300 scientists and engineers.

"We are proud to have our facility in Bangalore, which is a world-renowned centre for technology in India," Saud bin Abdullah said in his inaugural address.

Recalling the historical relations between the two countries, the prince said the Saudi kingdom believed in the future of India, a rapidly developing nation, where partnership and inclusive development is a priority.

"India is an important market for us in Asia, which is why our investment here is significant," said the Prince, who is also chairman of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu.

Set up in 1975 by the Saudi government as an autonomous organisation, the Royal Commission formulates policies and oversees implementation through two directorate generals at Jubail and Yanbu in the kingdom.

"As an integral part of our global R&D strategy, the centre will carry cutting-edge research in new platforms for next-generation materials across the industry sectors spanning construction, clean energy, electronics, medical devices and transportation," Al-Mady said.

Jena said Sabic's investment in Bangalore strengthens the long-standing relations between the two countries. "We look forward to more such partnerships from other companies in the Saudi kingdom," Jena said in his brief speech.

Going forward, the centre will have the largest number of scientists and researchers worldwide, with plans to double the headcount to 600 over the next 12-18 months, using the wealth of talent available across the country.

"We are gathering some of the best and brightest talent in India to shape the future of our R&D efforts and reaffirm our commitment to be the preferred technology partner for our Asian customers," Sabic vice-president Ernesto Occhiello said.

The company plans to invest $500 million over the next five years in India and China where it is setting up a similar technology centre in Shanghai. Its other dedicated application centres are at Moka in Japan and Sungnam in South Korea.

"Our staffing will also grow as we plan to triple the R&D headcount in Asia and create more jobs for supporting functions by 2025," Occhiello pointed out.

Terming the commencement of operations a milestone for Sabic, its vice-president for South Asian Janardhanan Ramanujalu said the centre would deliver innovative products and solutions, harnessing local talent and leveraging hi-tech expertise in the domain.

Headquartered in Riyadh, the company was founded in 1976 when the Saudi government decided to use the hydrocarbon gases associated with its oil production as the feedstock to produce chemicals, polymers and fertilisers.

As a major investor, the Saudi government has 70 percent equity state in Sabic, with the remaining 30 percent held by private investors in the kingdom and other Gulf countries.

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