Israeli smart energy tech company SolarEdge Technologies signed a deal with Saudi-based Ajlan & Bros Holding Abilitii, a Riyadh-based private sector conglomerate, on the sidelines of US President Joe Biden’s visit to the kingdom on Friday and Saturday.
Based in Herzliya and with US headquarters in California, SolarEdge, which is listed on the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 index, was one of 13 “major American companies” to sign investment agreements with entities Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Investment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (MISA) said in a statement released on Saturday (without mentioning the company’s Israeli roots).
The Circuit, a publication of Jewish Insider, reported for the first time the existence of the Sunday investment agreements.
A person familiar with the SolarEdge deal told The Circuit that the ministry’s announcement was “accurate”.
SolarEdge and Ajlan & Bros are expected to “explore investments in renewable energy”, according to the Saudi ministry, which also said the 13 agreements “cover a range of sectors, including energy, aerospace, defence, textiles , manufacturing, education and tourism” and “build on a long-standing economic relationship” between Saudi Arabia and the United States.
One of the agreements includes a partnership between the ministry and aerospace giant Boeing “in areas related to aircraft manufacturing”.
SolarEdge was founded in 2006, seeking to make solar power more affordable and widespread. It has developed an inverter solution for harvesting and managing energy in solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. In 2010, the company commercialized its SolarEdge direct current (DC) optimized inverter system to increase electricity production and reduce the cost of energy produced by the solar photovoltaic system.
Since July, the company has had a market capitalization of $14.72 billion and is considered one of the most important Israeli companies, alongside NICE Systems and cybersecurity giant Check Point Software Technologies.
The SolarEdge agreement is the first known public agreement between an Israeli company and a Saudi entity.
Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have official diplomatic relations, but secret ties have warmed in recent years, with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman viewing Israel as a strategic partner in the fight against Iranian influence In the region.
The kingdom refrained from signing the Abraham Accords negotiated by Washington in 2020, when the United States and Israel had hoped, but Riyadh is believed for giving the green light to Bahrain, where it retains decisive influence, to join the normalization agreement with Israel, alongside the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.
After the agreements were signed, Saudi Arabia began allowing Israeli airlines to use its airspace for flights to and from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Biden arrived in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Friday for a major regional conference, as he attempted to reset an important diplomatic relationship with Riyadh, bolster security in the Middle East and increase the global flow of oil.
He flew directly from Israel where the president spent two days meeting with Israeli leaders and participating in a host of events. He met with Palestinian officials in the West Bank on Friday before leaving for Jeddah.
The president’s trip had also been touted as an impetus to advance normalization ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and the US administration had suggested ahead of the trip that significant developments might be in sight.
Saudi Arabia quickly announced it would open its airspace to all civilian overflights to and from Israel – a move that will allow flights to China and India on much shorter and cheaper routes – but denied that it was a step towards normalization.
Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir has also sought to dampen speculation about Saudi-Israeli normalization, telling CNN in an interview Thursday that while such a step is “possible” and a “strategic option”, a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians was a “requirement” before Riyadh formalized its ties with Jerusalem.
Both the United States and Israel viewed the Riyadh overflight decision as “a big deal,” as Biden called it, and “a tangible first step.”
Riyadh made the open airspace announcement a day before Biden unveiled the planned withdrawal of an observation force securing a pair of islands in the Red Sea, which will allow their transfer from the Egypt to Saudi Arabia. The withdrawal was negotiated by the United States and required Israeli authorization because the presence of the observer force, as well as the assurance of freedom of transport around the islands for the Jewish state were among the conditions of Jerusalem to cede them to Egypt as part of their 1979 peace treaty.
Although Biden’s trip failed to get Saudi Arabia a signatory to the Abraham Accords, there were a slew of reports of economic and trade activity.
In late May, the Globes business daily reported that dozens of Israeli tech entrepreneurs and businesspeople had traveled to Saudi Arabia for advanced discussions on Saudi investments in Israeli companies and investment funds. The report says a number of deals, both in the civilian and defense sectors, have since been signed between Israelis and Saudis in European and other countries, including a multimillion-dollar deal in the agricultural technology sector and a second agreement for an Israeli water supply network. technical solution.
Saudis have also expressed interest in Israeli medical and health technology solutions, as well as Israeli “products”, the report said without giving further details.
In an interview with The Times of Israel last week, Israeli-American businessman Avi Jorisch said he led a group of about 50 prominent Jewish business leaders who visited the kingdom in May to meet with the Saudi business and government communities.
Jorisch said there was particular interest in Israel’s startup culture and its technological innovations around water, food, defense and space. “There was a deep interest and a desire to exploit some of the capabilities that Israel created,” Jorsich told The Times of Israel.
Also in May, the Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Arabia planned to allocate millions of dollars to investments in Israeli tech companies through Kushner’s new private equity firm. Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, established Affinity Partners late last year, raising some $3 billion in committed funding from international investors, including the Saudis.
The Wall Street Journal report said Riyadh was considering investing in two Israeli companies, although the names of the companies were not disclosed, nor the sectors in which they operate.
Jacob Magid contributed to this report.