ZURICH (Reuters) - The chief executives of ABB and Siemens are travelling to Saudi Arabia to attend a supplier conference, just weeks after they pulled out of an investment event in the country following the death of a journalist.
ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer and Joe Kaeser from Siemens will travel to Dammam for an event organised by Saudi Aramco called In-Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) which is due to take place on Monday and Tuesday.
The pair had been among the executives who boycotted an earlier investment conference following the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who was critical of the Saudi government.
During his trip Spiesshofer will visit an ABB factory in Dammam, and will also meet representatives from Saudi Aramco, one of ABB’s most important customers in the region.
Among other attendees at the IKTVA event are Paal Kibsgaard from Schlumberger and Jeff Miller, CEO of oilfield services company Halliburton.
“Alongside being a responsible partner to our customers, we act as a responsible employer to our workforce. Therefore, our CEO will meet some 200 employees at our plant in Dammam during his trip to Saudi Arabia,” ABB said in a statement on Sunday.
“In addition, the CEO will also be meeting one of our most important customers in the region in order to foster further dialogue with them.”
A person familiar with the situation said Spiesshofer was only taking part in the opening ceremony, and would not be a speaker or a panelist.
Siemens confirmed the attendance of Kaeser at IKTVA, where he is among the speakers, but said the executive would not meet with officials from the Saudi government.
“This is a business trip to the Middle East where Mr. Kaeser will visit customers and business partners in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia among others,” a Siemens spokesman said.
“In Saudi Arabia he will visit only our customer, Saudi Aramco, in Dammam.”
More than two dozen top officials and executives from the United States and Europe boycotted an investment conference last month over the killing of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government and a columnist for the Washington Post, was killed on Oct. 2 when he went there to pick up documents for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman.
The CIA believes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Khashoggi, sources have told Reuters, a claim rejected by the Saudi embassy in Washington.
Reporting by John Revill, Oliver Hirt and Alexander Huebner; Editing by Mark Potter