The billionaire chairman of Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Holding has been seeking investment opportunities while checking up on some of his holdings in the US and Canada. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud met top executives from banking, media and hospitality companies in which Kingdom Holding is a major investor. He met the Citigroup chief executive Vikram Pandit, Citi's chairman Richard Parsons and the chairman and chief executive of News Corp, Rupert Murdoch.
Prince Alwaleed also met senior management from the private investment vehicle of the Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Cascade Investment, and from the investment firm Colony Capital. Executives from the hotel chains Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and Fairmont Hotels and Resort were also on his itinerary. The trip came as Kingdom Holding posted on Wednesday its fourth consecutive quarterly profit. Last year, it wrote off almost half its equity as the prince's global stock picks slid during the global financial crisis.
Net profit in the fourth quarter of last year was 156 million Saudi riyals (Dh152.7m), an increase of 48.6 per cent over the previous quarter. The conglomerate posted a net loss of 31 billion riyals in the same quarter of 2008. The company said its return to profit was the result of a stronger hospitality industry and to gains from the sale of some hotels and land in Riyadh and Jeddah. The land sales were not connected to the company's planned projects in Saudi Arabia, it said.
Prince Alwaleed is the largest individual investor in the New York-based Citigroup, which was hit by losses during the financial crisis. Earlier this month, he transferred 180 million of the bank's shares to Kingdom Holding to improve its profitability. The shares were worth 2.24bn riyals. His meeting with Mr Murdoch provided what might be the strongest signal yet that News Corp is interested in an investment in Prince Alwaleed's Rotana Media Services.
Prince Alwaleed, who topped Arabian Business's list of the richest Saudis with a fortune of US$16.3bn (Dh59.87bn) despite suffering losses last year due to the economic downturn, owns 5.7 per cent of News Corp through Kingdom Holding. @Email:email@example.com