Bill Gates deal boosts Spain’s building sector

US software billionaire Bill Gates has given Spain’s ailing construction industry a boost by investing a small share of his €50 billion ($67 billion) fortune in Barcelona-based company Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC).

Bill Gates deal boosts Spain's building sector
Newspaper El Economista is now saying Gates’ investment in FCC is a way of returning the favour for Rajoy’s commitment to the billionaire’s charitable cause. Photo: Ramin Talaie/AFP

The world's second wealthiest man has bought 6 percent of heavily indebted Spanish construction company FCC for €113.5 million ($155 million).

The move makes Microsoft’s co-founder FCC's second largest shareholder group behind the company's chairwoman Ester Koplowitz, Spain’s second wealthiest woman.

Although FCC lost around 80 percent of its share value during Spain’s property crash, a €16.9 billion ($22.5 billion) contract to build a metro in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia has got the company back on its feet.

It also represented "the biggest international contract in the history of Spanish construction", FCC said in a statement on Monday.

As for Bill Gates’ relationship with Spain, the software magnate turned philanthropist met with Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy in 2012 to ensure Spain would continue participating in humanitarian projects despite the crippling crisis.

Newspaper El Economista is now saying Gates’ investment in FCC is a way of returning the favour for Rajoy’s commitment to the billionaire’s charitable cause.

Gates was also reported as saying he found it “strange that wages in Spain hadn’t fallen with all that unemployed labour”.

“I am not a technocrat who has closely studied the situation of Spain,” he told Spanish newspaper El País in 2012.

“But there is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take those difficult decisions to create the flexibility typical of the labour markets in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States.”

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King pays respects to late Saudi monarch

King Felipe travelled to Saudi Arabia at the weekend to pay tribute to the country's late king, Abdullah, who died on Friday. The Spanish king also met with Saudi Arabia's new monarch, Abdullah's brother, Salman.

King pays respects to late Saudi monarch
Spain's King Felipe, pictured in December 2014, visited Saudi Arabia at the weekend. Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP

King Abdullah, who was 90-years-old, died on Friday. He had ruled Saudi Arabia since 2005.

King Felipe was accompanied on the trip by Spanish Defence Minister, Pedro Morenés, who also attended the Saturday meeting with King Salman, which lasted “a few minutes” according to Spanish royal family sources quoted in Spanish daily 20 minutes.

The Spanish monarch also met with the heads of state of Jordan, Egypt, Ukraine, Holland, Sweden and France, who were also in Riyadh to pay their respects to the late king. 

King Felipe was met in Riyadh by the Spanish ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Joaquín Pérez Villanueva and the Governor of Riyadh, Turki bin Abdullah al-Saud. 

A US delegation, led by President Barack Obama will arrive in the country on Tuesday to pay their respects.