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China's JD.com eyes Mid-East entry, Saudi government partnership

[RIYADH] JD.com Inc is keen to partner the Saudi government, a senior executive told Reuters, as China's second-biggest e-commerce firm plans to enter the Middle East.

"We want to have a partnership with the Saudi government," Winston Cheng, president of the firm's international business, said on the sidelines of an investment conference.

"Saudi's Vision 2030 is an incredible opportunity."

Vision 2030 is Saudi Arabia's economic reform plan aimed at boosting private-sector growth and developing non-oil industries.

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JD.com's comments came as Saudi Arabia's main sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, organises a major business conference in Riyadh with technology singled out as a core area of investment.

In a sign of growing tech interest in the region, US e-commerce firm Amazon.com bought Middle Eastern online retailer Souq.com earlier this year in a deal described by Goldman Sachs as the biggest technology merger-and-acquisition deal in the Arab world.

Chinese e-commerce peer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's cloud-computing subsidiary Aliyun has also established a joint venture with Dubai's state-owned Meraas Group.

"This (region) is the next new frontier," said JD.com's Mr Cheng. "We'll see how this conference turns out in terms of a partnership (with the Saudi government) but we're looking to move very fast."

REUTERS