Klaus Kleinfeld, a German executive who ran Siemens and Arconic, will take a new role advising Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince on his reform plans and leave his current position as chief executive officer of a planned mega-project in the kingdom called Neom.
Kleinfeld, the CEO of Neom - a $500 billion new city on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast - will “take over wider responsibilities to enhance the economic, technological and financial development” of the kingdom as an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to a statement to Bloomberg News on Monday.
In the change effective Aug. 1, Kleinfeld will retain a role at Neom as a board member.
Nadhmi Al-Nasr, who led the development of Neom Bay, the project’s initial stage, will take over as Neom’s CEO, according to the statement.
Kleinfeld was named CEO of Neom in October when the project was announced with much fanfare in Riyadh.
The appointment marked a dramatic return after he was ousted as the head of New York-based Arconic for sending a letter to activist investor Elliott Management Corp. during a proxy fight. In 2007, he resigned as CEO of Siemens in the wake of a bribery probe into the German company’s business.
Prince Mohammed announced the plans to build Neom, promising a lifestyle not available in today’s Saudi Arabia, as he seeks to make the kingdom less dependent on oil. Mega-projects like Neom - a futuristic city that officials claim will have more robots than humans - figure prominently in his economic and social transformation plan, dubbed Vision 2030.
Kleinfeld will “contribute in various functions” to this plan, according to the statement. The government says the project will be backed by more than $500 billion from the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, as well as from local and international investors.
Similar efforts have struggled to take off, including King Abdullah Economic City north of Jeddah and King Abdullah Financial District, a $10 billion community in Riyadh that remains largely empty.
In the statement, Neom said that Al-Nasr, the new chief executive, has worked on the strategy and development of Neom Bay as a member of the founding board and is also interim president of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
A former manager at Saudi Arabian Oil Co, known as Aramco, he will be responsible for “developing the business plans for the core economic sectors” of the new city, Neom said in the statement.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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