Saudi prince sells press group shares

RIYADH (AFP) - Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's Kingdom Holding Company announced on Sunday the sale of its almost 30 per cent share in a press group that publishes pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

Kingdom Holding said in a statement that it was selling its 29.9 per cent share in the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG) for 837.3 million riyals (S$312 million).

SRMG publishes several leading newspapers and magazines, including the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat and the economic daily Al-Eqtisadieh.

The statement did not specify who had bought the shares in SRMG, where one of King Salman's sons, Prince Ahmed, holds 6.8 per cent of the capital.

In February, Prince Alwaleed said he had reduced his stake in Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation from 6.6 per cent to about 1 per cent.

The Saudi prince holds 95 per cent of Kingdom Holding, a company which is listed on the Saudi stock market.

He also owns Alarab, a pan-Arab news channel, which went off the air a day after its launch in Bahrain last February following an interview it broadcast with a Shi'ite opposition leader.