Flamboyant prince whose investments span the globe

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal sitting inside his desert camp near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2010. He has sizeable stakes in Twitter, Lyft and Citigroup and has gone into business with some of the corporate world's biggest titans, including Mr Bill G
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal sitting inside his desert camp near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2010. He has sizeable stakes in Twitter, Lyft and Citigroup and has gone into business with some of the corporate world's biggest titans, including Mr Bill Gates, Mr Rupert Murdoch and Mr Michael Bloomberg.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

RIYADH • Saudi Arabia touched one of the richest and most influential investors in the world when it arrested Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the prominent billionaire.

Among Prince Alwaleed's crown jewels: sizeable stakes in Twitter, Lyft and Citigroup. He has gone into business with some of the corporate world's biggest titans, including Mr Bill Gates, Mr Rupert Murdoch and Mr Michael Bloomberg.

His investments span the globe, including the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris, the Savoy in London and the Plaza in New York. He has also invested in the AccorHotels chain and Canary Wharf, the London business development.

So vast are his investments that he has been referred to as the Warren Buffett of the Middle East.

Prince Alwaleed's arrest is likely to reverberate across dozens of companies around the world that count the investment company that he founded, Kingdom Holding, as a major investor or shareholder.

The move was part of a sweeping and unprecedented round-up of at least 10 other princes, four ministers and dozens of former ministers.

Prince Alwaleed, a 62-year-old with an Omar Sharif moustache, ubiquitous sunshades and penchant for publicity, is a relatively flamboyant figure for the royal family and is one of the most prominent Saudis internationally.

His arrest seems particularly aimed at demonstrating that no one is beyond the reach of the committee and the Crown Prince.

Despite his wealth, Prince Alwaleed was not seen as particularly powerful within the Saudi royal family or as a threat to the Crown Prince's consolidation of power.

His father, Prince Talal, known as the "Red Prince", spent years in exile after leading a kind of leftist revolt among royals in 1962, and had grumbled in the past about being passed over in the royal succession.

A more likely reason for his inclusion in the arrests, experts said, is connected to his bankruptcy in 2008. He had been highly leveraged and somehow got elements of the government to bail him out.

A 2013 Forbes magazine profile described Prince Alwaleed's marble-filled, 420-room Riyadh palace, private Boeing 747 equipped with a throne, and his 48ha resort on the edge of the Saudi capital with five homes, five artificial lakes as well as a mini-Grand Canyon.

Observers said his investments, current and future, may now be in doubt after his detention, although Kingdom Holding's chief executive, listed on its website as Mr Talal Ibrahim al-Maiman, in a stock market statement on Sunday, said the company has received the support of the government, and would continue to operate "business as usual".

NYTIMES, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2017, with the headline 'Flamboyant prince whose investments span the globe'. Print Edition | Subscribe