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Alwaleed’s Kingdom on the prowl
May 7, 2013 11:19 by Reuters
Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal will hold onto his most high-profile investments, which range from stakes in Citigroup and News Corp to micro blogging site Twitter, while seeking out new targets to diversify his global portfolio.
Kingdom Holding, Alwaleed’s investment vehicle, has asked investment banks to identify possible acquisition targets around the world and plans to sell its stake in 20-30 hotels in the next two years, he told Reuters on Monday.
“We have talked with certain investment banks to look at opportunities that we may have not seen in our region. This is in motion right now,” said Alwaleed, who owns 95 percent of Kingdom, in an interview in Riyadh on Monday.
“We intentionally try to be diversified by location and by industry so we won’t have much concentration in one arena.”
Kingdom Holding, which went public in 2007, has a market value of around $17 billion, making it one of the largest listed investment firms in the Middle East.
Alwaleed, a nephew of King Abdullah, has also moved to divest some of his investments in real estate and hotels in recent months, and said he plans to sell 20-30 more hotels in Africa, the Middle East and Asia in the next two years.
“Those are traded portfolio. We just take them, we reconstruct them with our partners, we brand them… and then we sell them. It’s like a recycling situation,” he said.
Kingdom owns stock in hotel ownership and management companies such as Movenpick, Fairmont, Raffles and Four Seasons, which Alwaleed said he would not sell. It also has direct stakes in specific hotels run by these companies.
Kingdom has been selling such stock in recent months. It booked a $32.9 million gain from sale of some equity in New York’s Plaza hotel in December, retaining 25 percent. It also sold its interest in Fairmont Hoteland Raffles Suites & Residences in Manila last year.
However, despite these plans, he said Kingdom would retain a stake in major hotel companies and in landmark assets.
“Hotels that we as Kingdom Holding directly own such as the Plaza Hotel in New York, the Savoy in London, the Four Seasons in Toronto and George V in Paris, these are the anchor ones that are not for sale,” he said.
Kingdom Holding first-quarter net profit rose 9 percent year-on-year, but the company’s share price has dropped 18 percent since the start of 2013.
Alwaleed said he thought the share price was “just taking a breather” after being one of the strongest performing stocks in Saudi Arabia’s all-share index last year.
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