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Alwaleed’s Kingdom on the prowl


May 7, 2013 11:19 by


Alwaleed said Kingdom would retain its holding in major investments including Citigroup Inc, News Corp,Twitter and its most recent acquisition, the Chinese online retailer 360buy Jingdong.

Kingdom owns 2 percent of Citi and 7 percent of voting shares in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. It has invested $300 million in Twitter and $160 million in 360buy.

He said he did not anticipate Twitter would launch an initial public offering (IPO) soon and should draw lessons from Facebook’s disappointing launch last year.

“There’s no rush for Twitter to go public. We never push them to go public fast. The issue is when will Twitter be ready to go public?” he said.

“The Facebook IPO was not well managed, obviously. The lessons learnt there are that you should time the IPO at the right time and be sure to have a price that does not only help shareholders but also (helps) new shareholders getting into the company,” he added.

An IPO at Kingdom’s most recent acquisition, 360buy, was planned for 2014 or 2015, but that “there’s no rush”, he added.

Alwaleed said he had confidence in the performance of new Citigroup Chief Executive Michael Corbat, whose conservative strategy he said was beginning to show in results.

Citigroup posted a 30 percent increase in first-quarter net profit in April, beating analysts forecasts as the No.3 U.S. bank generated more money from underwriting stock issues and advising companies on mergers.

The stock has risen 18.8 percent year-to-date and surged nearly 45 percent in the last one year.

He also said he had not yet decided whether to retain stock in both the entertainment and publishing wings of News Corp after the company carries out plans to split its television and film assets from its newspapers this summer.

However, he said it would make sense for the media company to try to buy out other investors in British satellite channel BSkyB once the fallout from the scandal of phone hacking at News Corp’s British newspaper unit fades into the background.

News Corp abandoned plans to acquire the rest of BSkyB under political pressure after revelations in 2011 that journalists at one of its British newspapers had hacked into voice mail recordings on a massive scale.

“On Sky, there are two concepts here. One is to divest completely BskyB or to buy it completely… I can’t speak on behalf of Mr Murdoch as he has to decide, but I think both make sense because we are in the middle now at 40 percent ownership,” he said.

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