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UPDATE 3-Nvidia to partner Malaysia's YTL Power in $4.3 bln AI development project

(Adds investment figure, comment from Malaysia PM in lead and paragraphs 8-9)

By Rozanna Latiff and Fanny Potkin

KUALA LUMPUR Dec 8 - Malaysian conglomerate YTL's utilities unit will partner with U.S technology giant Nvidia to develop artificial intelligence (AI) infrastructure in the Southeast Asian country, in a $4.3 billion investment deal.

The first phase is expected to be operational by mid-2024, YTL Power International said in a statement on Friday.

Reuters exclusively reported earlier on Friday, citing sources, that Nvidia and YTL were in advanced talks to partner over AI infrastructure, including supercomputers and cloud computing, with the project to be hosted at a data centre in the southern state of Johor.

Under the deal, the companies will collaborate on building Malaysia's fastest supercomputers using Nvidia AI chips and with YTL Power International also utilising Nvidia's AI cloud computing platform to build a large language model in Malay, YTL Power said.

The announcement confirmed the project would be hosted at YTL's data centre park in Kulai, Johor.

The partnership is set to strengthen Southeast Asia’s fast-growing AI ecosystem as well as Malaysia's ambitions as a semiconductor manufacturing power. The country has seen rising multi-billion dollar investments from global semiconductor players in recent years, including from Intel and Infineon.

"Malaysia is an important hub for Southeast Asia computing infrastructure, which requires access to land, facilities and power, and YTL could play a great role in that," Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang told reporters earlier in the day, without directly confirming the deal.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim posted on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that the collaboration between Nvidia and YTL will involve an investment worth 20 billion ringgit ($4.29 billion).

"The decision to invest in Malaysia is a clear signal that foreign investors, especially technology giants, continue to make the country a primary destination of choice in this region," Anwar said, following a meeting with Huang and YTL Power managing director Yeoh Seok Hong in Malaysia's administrative capital Putrajaya.

($1 = 4.6620 ringgit) (Reporting by Rozanna Latiff in Kuala Lumpur, Fanny Potkin and Yantoultra Ngui in Singapore, and Max Cherney in San Francisco; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Gerry Doyle and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)