Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal’s fortune has taken a dramatic fall since his imprisonment, according to a report by the Financial Times. Billions of dollars is reported to have been “wiped off” Saudi Arabia’s most famous investor following his arrest under last month’s anti-corruption purge authorised by the Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman.
According to the FT, the Saudi tycoon and his main investment firm, Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) has been losing billions due to uncertainty surrounding Bin Talal’s release. Citing Forbes the FT reported that KHC has lost nearly a fifth of its value since Prince Bin Talal’s detention, falling to $8.5bn and hitting the tycoon’s net wealth by $2 billion to about $16 billion.
In an attempt to dampen concerns over the future of KHC, the chief executive of Bin Talal’s investment firm, Talal Al Maiman said that more than $12.5 billion is held by the management globally and the company “enjoys a solid financial position underpinned by a prudent and conservative funding plan”.
But the FT cited bankers who described KHC’s office in Riyadh as being “a black hole of information”. The FT revealed that even those who have worked with the billionaire or his investment team for years know little of his fate or what the impact on his company might be.
Local and international lenders are said to be alarmed by the confusion surrounding the prince’s arrest, which has put on hold $1 billion in loans to finance KHC’s acquisition of a 16 per cent stake in Saudi Fransi Bank from Crédit Agricole.
“One must assume that he will be deal making for his future,” said one Saudi banker. “But in a broader sense, he is done now.”
Bin Talal is the most prominent amongst those held against their will in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh. Saudi officials are seeking to appropriate billions of dollars from captured princes and businessman in exchange for their release. According to some estimates the crackdown may see the government seize up to $800 billion in cash, though a more realistic target is said to be at least $100 billion, which is the equivalent of the national debt.
It’s reported that Bin Talal intends to fight the allegations in court rather than agree to a settlement. He is thought to have even hired lawyers, according to two people who spoke to the FT.