Prince Alwaleed's release adds $1 billion to his fortune

Global investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has seen his wealth swell by $1 billion since Saudi authorities released hi...

Posted: Jan 29, 2018 4:49 PM
Updated: Jan 29, 2018 4:50 PM

Global investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has seen his wealth swell by $1 billion since Saudi authorities released him from detention on Saturday.

Shares in Kingdom Holding -- Alwaleed's firm that owns stakes in Apple, Twitter and Citigroup -- have been on a tear since he walked free after being held for nearly three months in a crackdown into alleged corruption.

Alwaleed was arrested in November alongside dozens of other royals, government officials and prominent businessmen and held at the luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh.

Kingdom Holding shares rose almost 2.5% on Monday, taking their gains since Thursday's close to more than 12%. (The Saudi stock market is closed on Friday and Saturday.)

Alwaleed owns 95% of Kingdom Holding, which means the value of his stake has risen by just over $1 billion in the last two days. The stock has recovered all the losses posted in the immediate aftermath of his detention.

But it remains unclear whether the billionaire prince will be able to keep his fortune intact, because the conditions of his release have not been made public.

Other detainees held in the anti-corruption swoop were freed only after reaching settlements with the Saudi authorities that required them to hand over cash and other assets.

Kingdom Holding has not responded to requests for comment.

Related: Saudi Arabia is handing out cash recovered from detainees

Just hours before his release, Alwaleed told Reuters that there were "no charges" against him and he has no plans to leave the kingdom. He said he also expects to retain his ownership of Kingdom Holding.

"If the ownership remains unchanged, the stock is likely to recover given that the underlying business of the company would remain as it is and the management would be back as usual," said Mazen Al Sudairi, head of research at Al Rajhi Capital in Riyadh.

"Even if the ownership changes hands to the government, the company would be managed well enough to ensure that the stock price returns back to its fair value," he added.

To reassure foreign investors unsettled by the mass arrests, the Saudi government is preparing an international roadshow starting in February to explain the episode. It wants investors to commit cash in support of the country's economic transformation.

Related: Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton: Luxury hotel or detention center for Saudi royals?

Alwaleed, who is worth an estimated $17 billion, has grown Kingdom Holding into a global powerhouse. It manages $12.5 billion in assets.

The prince got his start in business in 1979, making investments in Saudi real estate and construction. But he quickly turned to banking.

He captured Wall Street's attention by becoming one of Citi's major shareholders in 1991. Later, when the global financial crisis caused the bank's shares to plummet, he increased his stake in a show of confidence. It paid off.

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