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Cutting ties with Chinese businesses has not been easy, G42

Abu Dhabi’s G42 is paring back its presence in China and has pledged to invest in key Western markets in an effort to assuage US concerns over the artificial intelligence firm’s ties to Beijing.

“All of our China investments that were previously made are already divested,” G42 Chief Executive Officer Peng Xiao said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “Because of that, of course, we have no need anymore for any physical China presence.”

The comments come months after a key US lawmaker urged the Commerce Department to consider trade restrictions on the firm over its ties to China, following allegations made in a New York Times article. G42 denied the report, and said the company has “pursued a commercial strategy since 2022 to fully align with our US partners and not to engage with Chinese companies.”

That’s against a backdrop of broader pushback on entities perceived to have close ties with Beijing. Officials in President Joe Biden’s cabinet were reviewing over half a dozen acquisitions, people familiar with the matter said last year, including deals from Mubadala Investment Co., which owns a stake in G42.

On Monday, Xiao said the firm will focus on deploying capital in the US and other western markets, where its key AI partners operate. “This could include all the way from Israel to Germany, to the UK and US so it is rather broad,” he said.

The Abu Dhabi firm, which has been at the forefront of the United Arab Emirates push into AI, has businesses spanning everything from cloud computing to driverless cars and is part of UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s $1.5 trillion empire.

Its partnerships include one with OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, which is teaming up with the Gulf firm as part of an expansion within the UAE and the broader region. OpenAI has held discussions with G42 to raise funding for a new chip venture, Bloomberg reported last year.

“We do work with OpenAI closely as we’ve publicly announced, they are a key partner to us,” Xiao said, declining to offer specifics. “We do a lot of very good work with Sam (Altman) because he is clearly both an intellectual leader in this domain on the frontier model development as well as a very commercially successful entrepreneur.”

Also in the US, G42 is partnering with Cerebras Systems Inc., which recently built the first of nine AI supercomputers as an alternative to systems using Nvidia Corp. technology. Xiao said the company will focus on “doubling down” on that partnership.

“We are key investors in Cerebras and also one of their most important customers and partners,” he said. “I am hoping within the March to April timeframe, we’ll double the capacity of our Condor galaxy supercomputer in California.” Bloomberg

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