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Prince Alwaleed Is Richest Arabian Businessman for Seventh Year

Alwaleed’s Kingdom Buys $500 Million GM Stake in IPO
Saudi tycoon Prince AlWaleed bin Talal speaking. Source: AFP/Getty Images

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was ranked the richest Arab businessman by Arabian Business magazine for the seventh year after adding more than $2 billion to his wealth this year.

Alwaleed’s assets were valued at $20.4 billion, the Dubai-based magazine said today in its 2010 Arab Rich List, adding that the figure was confirmed by the Saudi prince’s office in Riyadh. It compares with Alwaleed’s wealth of $18 billion reported last year by Arabian Business.

Alwaleed, 55, has restructured Kingdom Holding Co. and invested $500 million in General Motors Co.’s initial public offering in November to drive investment growth as the global financial crisis unwinds. Riyadh-based Kingdom Holding, 95 percent owned by Prince Alwaleed, announced yesterday that it will pay its first annual dividend in 2011 since listing on the Saudi stock exchange more than three years ago.

“Taking into account the latest market values of Kingdom Holding, and an appreciation in the value of many of his key assets, we now place a figure of $20.4 billion on his total wealth,” Arabian Business said. The magazine assessed Alwaleed’s assets in five areas, including Kingdom Holding, companies outside Saudi Arabia, property and transportation.

Shares of Kingdom Holding have gained less than 1 percent this year, while the Tadawul All-Share Index, the largest bourse in the Middle East by market value, has advanced 7.2 percent. Alwaleed sold 315 million shares of Kingdom Holding at 10.25 riyals each in an initial public offering in July 2007.

$100 Billion

Saudi businesses represented six of the 10 richest Arabs this year on the Arabian Business list. The wealth of the top 10 Arabs climbed 16 percent from last year to $100 billion, the magazine said.

Saudi Arabian businessman Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al-Jaber was ranked the second richest Arab with $12 billion, up from $9.7 billion in 2009. He is the founder of MBI International.

The Olayan family, with more than 50 companies from manufacturing to providing investments services, ranked third with $11.9 billion in wealth. Mohammed al-Amoudi, whose Corral Group owns Preem AB, Sweden’s largest refiner, followed with $10 billion. The Saudi Binladin Group with $9.8 billion was ranked fifth.

Saudi companies have benefited as the Arab world’s largest economy implements a $400 billion, five-year spending package, announced in late 2008, to stimulate economic growth expected by the central bank at 3.5 percent this year. The government also announced a $384 billion, five-year spending plan in August.

Al-Kharafi Slips

“Saudi Arabia has by far the biggest number of entries on the list, with the kingdom’s entities taking up the top five places alone,” Arabian Business said. “Altogether, there are 32 Saudi entries on the 2010 list, and of the 24 new entries, 20 of them came from the Gulf’s biggest economy.”

Kuwait’s Nasser Al-Kharafi dropped three spots to the sixth position with $8.2 billion, according to the list. Al-Kharafi had $9.4 billion, according to the Arabian Business 2009 list.

Alwaleed built his fortune by investing in brand-name companies he considered undervalued, including Apple Inc., News Corp. and Time Warner Inc. He ranks 19th on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s richest billionaires.

Alwaleed and Kingdom Holding bought a 1 percent stake in Detroit-based GM’s IPO because of the “relatively attractive” offering price and growth prospects in Brazil and China, according to a company statement last month.

In January, Alwaleed transferred 180 million of his shares in Citigroup Inc. to Kingdom Holding to enable the Saudi company to pay dividends and improve earnings, according to a company release. Kingdom Holding appointed Sarmad Zok, chief executive officer of the lodging unit Kingdom Hotel Investments, to the board of Kingdom Holding and its investment committee in June.

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