Saudis wielding veto power over Prince Alwaleed, Kingdom Holdings


Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal remains chairman of Kingdom Holding Company following his release from detention, but the Saudi government reportedly has final say over decisions at the investment firm.

Investment decisions at Kingdom Holding are now subject to approval by the government, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing senior Saudi advisers. Kingdom Holding has $12.5 billion invested across more than a dozen sectors around the world, according to its website.

Alwaleed’s personal investment portfolio is also under government control, according to the Journal. Alwaleed holds substantial stakes in companies like Citigroup, Twitter, Lyft and Time Warner. The Journal report does not indicate whether the government has exercised its newfound influence over these investments.

However, sources tell the Journal the government has already intervened in a major real estate project, ordering senior managers at Kingdom Holding to abandon the Jeddah Tower, which would be the world’s tallest skyscraper when — and if — it is completed.

Officials have directed Kingdom Holding to instead focus its energy on a new city called Neom, which is expected to cost $500 billion to build.

The project was announced in October by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the influential king in waiting who is overseeing the kingdom’s economic transformation and spearheaded the campaign that led to Alwaleed’s detention.

Alwaleed was among dozens of influential Saudis swept up and detained at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh in a campaign meant to crack down on graft, according to the government. On Sunday, The New York Times published an investigation alleging the detainees faced coercion and physical abuse.

Alwaleed was once listed as the kingdom’s wealthiest man, wielding a net worth of $18.7 billion, but Forbes removed the prince and other wealthy Saudis from its annual Billionaire’s List because their finances are uncertain following settlements with the Saudi government.

Long seen as a broker for investors seeking to put money to work in the kingdom, Alwaleed is now stepping back from that role, according to the Journal.

The Saudi government did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment. Kingdom Holding could not immediately be reached by CNBC for comment.

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal.

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