BlackRock in talks with governments about investments to power AI

FILE PHOTO: Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, speaks during an interview with CNBC on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., April 14, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

ROME (Reuters) - BlackRock is in talks with various governments over ways to fund critical investments to support artificial intelligence (AI), including increasing the power supply, the CEO of the world's largest asset manager said on Friday.

AI is seen as a major boost to global productivity, but it requires data centres and semiconductor plants that require huge amounts of electricity.

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink spoke remotely at a meeting in Rome of the B7 business groups of the Group of Seven (G7) states. The conference preceded next week's meeting in Italy of finance ministers and central bankers from the G7 more advanced economies.

"These AI data centres are going to require more power than anything we could ever have imagined. We at the G7 do not have enough power," Fink said.

"I think this is going to create a real competitive challenge for countries."

Data centres are likely to be built where power supply is cheaper, raising the need for state subsidies in areas where energy costs are not competitive, Fink said.

Investments to build the data centres and chip factories backing AI technologies and power them, which BlackRock estimates "in the trillions of dollars", require the participation of private investors and could be a great opportunity for pension funds and insurers, Fink said.

Japan on Tuesday said it envisages the need for electricity output to rise 35% to 50% by 2050 due to growing demand from semiconductor plants and data centres backing AI.

"We're in conversations with many governments right now about how can we bring private capital," Fink said, adding G7 states could not shoulder the cost given the risk of a "fiscal crisis".

"The deficits we're seeing in the G7 are becoming a burden for my children, your children, our grandchildren."

(Reporting by Valentina Za, editing by Gavin Jones and Rod Nickel)

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