After being arrested and imprisoned by Saudi police during Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s
corruption crackdown cash grab late last year, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Saudi Arabia’s richest man, was finally released (after reportedly being tortured and beaten) in January, having signed an agreement that would allow him to do more about freely.
But his freedom didn’t come cheap.
As we reported at the time, Saudi authorities reportedly demanded $6 billion in cash from the prince in exchange for his freedom. When he resisted, he was reportedly beaten and tortured at the Riyadh Ritz Carlton, where he was being held along with dozens of other royals and wealthy Saudi businessmen.
While negotiations were ongoing, WSJ reported at the time that Alwaleed had reportedly offered a piece of his holding company, Kingdom Holding Co., and that the Saudi government was considering accepting this as payment.
Prince al-Waleed is talking with the government about instead accepting as payment for his release a large piece of his conglomerate, Kingdom Holding Co., people familiar with the matter said. The Riyadh-listed company’s market value is $8.7 billion, down about 14% since the prince’s arrest. Kingdom Holding said in November that it retained the support of the Saudi government and that its strategy “remains intact.”
The terms of Alwaleed’s release were never disclosed, so we can’t say for certain what, if anything, he surrendered in exchange for his freedom. But in it’s latest update to its “billionaire’s list” Bloomberg has provided a few clues. According to Bloomberg, Prince Al-Waleed’s fortune has decreased by more than $3 billion over the past year – and more than $20 billion since 2014.
While most of this decline can be attributed to a drop in Kingdom Holding shares (the stock, which trades on the Tadawul, took a hit on news that Alwaleed had been imprisoned), Al-Waleed’s family office said his personal holdings of real-estate, stocks and other assets took a nearly $800 million hit, which they blamed on “minor adjustments”.
The fortune of Saudi Arabia’s richest person, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, has dropped to $15.2 billion, its lowest level since the Bloomberg Billionaires Index began tracking him in April 2012.
The value of his portfolio of public equities, stakes in closely held companies and Saudi real estate fell by $760 million in the first three quarters of the year, according to an emailed document from his private office. The decline was due to “minor adjustments” in the valuation of assets and some disposals, including the sale last month of his stake in U.S. ride-hailing company Lyft Inc. to his investment company, Kingdom Holding Co.
Meanwhile, Al-Waleed’s stake in Kingdom has lost 70% of its value since 2014.
Alwaleed’s most valuable asset, a 95 percent stake in Kingdom Holding, has dropped 70 percent of its value since hitting a record high in 2014. The firm’s shares fell more than 20 percent following Alwaleed’s sudden detention in an anticorruption crackdown last November and have never fully recovered.
While $800 million is a hefty fine, it appears Alwaleed did a decent job of advocating for himself: He managed to talk MbS and his cronies down from $6 billion to just under $1 billion.
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