Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

How the ‘Warren Buffett of Saudi Arabia’ Built His Fortune and Empire

One of the world’s richest men in Saudi Arabia who have stakes in a number of million dollar companies has been arrested in the case of corruption. On Saturday, the Saudi government announced that Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was arrested along with other dozens of businessmen.

People were amazed to see the name of this prince among the people arrested as he is the world’s 61st-richest person. On Wall Street, he remained a celebrity for many years and has big stakes in companies such as Apple, Twitter, Citigroup, etc. the 282-foot super yacht of Donald Trump was bought by Alwaleed, owns a zoo at his private palace, and flies around in a retrofitted Boeing 747.

Kingdom Center which is a 992-foot-tall glass edifice is one of the prominent features that he owns. It serves as headquarter for him and is nine miles away from where Alwaleed has been rumored to be among the detainees. Among all other people, the former head of the country’s most powerful guard, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, and others but the focus right now is on Alwaleed’s involvement. According to the senior officials of Saudi Arabia, Alwaleed has been charged with bribery, money laundering, and extortion. According to him, his $17 billion fortune is self-made and his Kingdom Holding Co. was seeded in 1979 with a $30,000 gift from his father as well as a home equity loan. In the beginning, he kept is to the typical dealing of entrepreneurial princes, traded land and became as a key man for foreign companies. He was asked by the Chief Executive Officer John Reed in February 1991, for the cash infusion for which Alwaleed sunk half-billion dollars into the bank and brought the size of the holding to almost $800 million.

The prince was able to get major stakes in world’s biggest companies such as Netscape and News Corp. he developed a liking for hotels and acquired world’s prestigious properties ranging from the Plaza in New York George V in Paris. By the end of the century he was referred to as the Warren Buffet in Arabia. In ten years, he soared 190 percent in investments. In 1994 he invested $345 billion in ill-fated Euro Disney.

Alwaleed also invested in his home market and since 1994, Saudi’s stock exchange’s benchmark index tripled. Including the media company Rotana Group, equities, and land in Saudi Arabia, Alwaleed valued his investments as $6.5 billion. According to an analyst at investment research firm in London, Alwaleed had something of a mixed reputation outside his kingdom.

International investors considered him as a man who talked a very big game, sometimes performed but often didn’t. He was considered an unofficial ambassador of the country and its spending power. He was sometimes ostentatious, modern and outward looking, he always supported for the right of Saudi women to drive and work.With majority of his staff as women, he hired first female pilot of the country to fly his private jets.

Following the reports of the crackdown, Alwaleed’s shares fell 21 percent in four days. All his accounts have been frozen.

Via: BloomBerg / Image Credits Here

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Written by Hisham Sarwar

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