Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud/Bloomberg
The Saudi prince said that the decline in his fortune to $15.5 billion from $36 billion was due to a slump in Kingdom Holding shares and wasn’t because of any agreement or settlement he made.
Wednesday 20, March 2019
(Bloomberg) –Saudi Arabia billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, whose wealth has more than halved since 2014, promised more transparency on his settlement with the government over alleged corruption in the hope the move would calm investors.
The prince, who was detained in November 2017 in what the government called a corruption crackdown, said he may reveal more details on the terms of his release in the “coming weeks or months” so shareholders in Kingdom Holding Co., his publicly-traded investment firm, “will be more comfortable."
In an interview, Alwaleed, “Maybe the market still wants more transparency, admit there is some confusion for them now.”
About half of Alwaleed’s wealth is tied to shares in Kingdom Holding, in which he owns a 95 per cent stake.
Alwaleed was the most prominent among hundreds of Saudi businessmen, government officials and princes who were swept up in the corruption crackdown and detained at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel.
Kingdom Holding shares slumped about 20 per cent in the days after his detention and are yet to fully recover.
The billionaire was released January 2018 after reaching what he called a confidential confirmed understanding with the Kingdom. Various media reports have since suggested the settlement could have involved cash payments or property transfers worth billions of dollars.
The prince has refused to reveal details of the agreement, other than to confirm he still had control of his assets, including Kingdom Holding and his media company Rotana.
Still, a lack of clarity over whether those released were guilty and what their settlements were continues to weigh on Saudi Arabia’s private sector and spook foreign investors.