Prince Alwaleed Loses 19% of Wealth on Global Slump
Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Citigroup Inc.â€™s largest individual investor, lost 19 percent of his personal wealth in the past year as the global economic slump reduced the value of banking and property assets, according to Arabian Business.
The Saudi billionaire was ranked the wealthiest Arab with assets worth $17.08 billion as of Dec. 2, the 2008 Rich List, published on the Dubai-based magazineâ€™s Web site today said. That compares with $21 billion a year ago, the magazine reported, citing Alwaleedâ€™s private financial accounts.
â€śEveryone has been guessing for 20 yearsâ€ť about the assets, Alwaleed was quoted by Arabian Business as saying. â€śI want you to get it right -- to get it absolutely right.â€ť
Financial firms worldwide have taken $980 billion of writedowns, losses and credit provisions since the start of the current turmoil in the financial markets, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. More than 200,000 jobs have been cut across the industry and the U.S. benchmark Standard & Poorâ€™s 500 Index has dropped 40 percent this year.
Alwaleed, a nephew of the late King Fahd bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, stands out among more than 2,000 Saudi princes because heâ€™s made money. After earning a bachelorâ€™s degree from Menlo College near San Francisco, he returned to the Persian Gulf and parlayed an inheritance of less than $1 million into a billion- dollar fortune in the 1980s, mostly through real-estate investments, according to Riz Khanâ€™s biography â€śAlwaleed: Businessman, Billionaire, Princeâ€ť (William Morrow, 2005.)
The Prince, 53, built his fortune by investing in brand-name companies he considered undervalued, including Apple Inc., News Corp. and Time Warner Inc. Forbes magazine estimated he was worth $21 billion in March, ranking him 19th among the worldâ€™s billionaires.
Alwaleed was lauded by Time magazine as the Middle Eastâ€™s answer to Warren Buffett, the Sage of Omaha, after his 1991 investment in Citicorp, Citigroup Inc.â€™s predecessor, helped make the Saudi billionaire one of the worldâ€™s five richest people.
This year, Alwaleedâ€™s investments havenâ€™t kept pace with regional benchmarks. The shares of his Riyadh-based Kingdom Holding Co. have slumped 60 percent -- more than Saudi Arabiaâ€™s Tadawul All-Share Index or Buffettâ€™s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Kingdom Holding said Nov. 20 Alwaleed will boost his Citigroup stake, his largest holding, to 5 percent. The bankâ€™s stock has fallen more than 70 percent since Jan. 1.
Kingdom Holdingâ€™s assets are valued at $7.98 billion, while the Prince owns real estate worth $3.196 billion and his media assets such as LBC and Rotana Holding are valued at $1.6 billion, Arabian Business said, citing financial accounts of the billionaire.
â€śThe Prince keeps a significant amount of cash at all times, which is instantly accessible,â€ť the magazine reported, without giving further details.
Alwaleedâ€™s other major assets are valued at $1.679 billion, and include a Boeing 747, an Airbus A380, yachts and 400 vehicles, a collection of jewelry, and investments in a French port and stakes in Lebanese and Palestinian companies.
The billionaire is one of two Middle Eastern investors racing to build the worldâ€™s first kilometer-high skyscraper in the Persian Gulf. On Oct. 13, Kingdom Holding announced plans for the Kingdom Tower, part of the $27 billion Kingdom City real-estate project in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
Below is a list of the 10 richest Arabs according to Arabian Business. The list excludes members of the regionâ€™s royal families except Alwaleed. Assets held in billions of dollars:
NAME Country 2008 2007
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Saudi Arabia $17.08 $21 Nasser Al Kharafi Kuwait $9.6 $12 Maan Al Sanea Saudi Arabia $9.3 $10 Sheikh Mohammed bin Saudi Arabia $8.8 $3 Issa Al Jabber Mohammad Al Amoudi Saudi Arabia $8.8 $9.2 Abdulaziz Al Ghurair U.A.E. $7.8 $8 The Bin Laden Family Saudi Arabia $7.2 $8.5 The Olayan Family Saudi Arabia $7.2 $7.2 The Kanoo Family Bahrain $6.1 $6.1 Said Khoury Palestine $6 $6