Washington: Siemens chief executive officer Joe Kaeser’s decision to skip an investment conference in Saudi Arabia this week has delayed the signing of a power-plant contract that could ultimately be worth as much as $20 billion (Dh73.46 billion), according to people familiar with the matter.

Kaeser was scheduled to sign the agreement while attending the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia this week, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks aren’t public. The project is expected to go ahead despite the snub, although at a later date, they said.

“Truth needs to be found out and justice applied,” Kaeser said in a tweet on Monday, after days of suspense over whether he would attend the meeting. “It’s not a decision against the kingdom or its people.”

A Siemens spokesman declined to comment. Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Siemens could use the business. Its struggling turbine business is suffering from a sharp slump in orders triggered by a global shift to renewable energy sources.

Kaeser is cutting thousands of jobs at the German firm as a result, while rival General Electric is in the throes of a deep revamp.

Separately, the companies are duelling over a major order in Iraq that’s drawn intervention by their respective governments.