GE Said to Invest $760 Million in Italian Research Centers

  • Plan shows dividends for Renzi's push to lure outsiders
  • Apple, Cisco already announced deals for Italy this month

General Electric Co. plans to sign agreements to invest more than 700 million euros ($760 million) in research and development facilities in Italy, according to four people familiar with the company’s intentions.

The deals may be inked as soon as this weekend or early next week when GE Chairman Jeff Immelt visits the country, the people said. GE will spend more than 500 million euros on a center in Tuscany that will develop new gas turbines, and another 200 million euros on plants that will look at innovation for manufacturing processes, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plans haven’t been made public yet. 

GE has said in a statement that deals “of great importance for Italian industrial and economic development” will be signed and that the investments will focus on Tuscany, Piedmont, Apulia and Campania. Spokesmen at GE Italy and the Italian Industry Ministry declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is trying to draw foreign investment to Italy to help bolster the economy as the country limps out of a record-long recession. Last week the premier met Chuck Robbins, chief executive officer of Cisco Systems Inc. which will make $100 million of investments in Italy over the next three years, including funds for hi-tech startups. The same week, Renzi met Apple Inc.CEO Tim Cook. Apple is setting up its first European program to train mobile app developers in Italy.

GE’s Tuscan deal, part of a plan called Project Galileo, will involve hiring 500 engineers and senior-level staff, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. Renzi, a former mayor of the region’s capital, Florence, has pushed for the signings to be carried out soon, the person said. Renzi’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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