December 20, 2011

Saudi Prince Drops $300 million Into Twitter

In a Very very unexpected move the member of the Saudi royal family has invested $300 million in social networking company Twitter. Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has taken Twitter through his Kingdom Holding Company investment firm.

With Twitter valued at around $8 billion in total, the investment represents a 3.75 percent stake. The prince says tha the deal is the culmination of several months of negotiations.

In a statement, Twitter’s newest equity holder says that the investment was the result of “several months of negotiations and comprehensive due diligence”.

Prince Alwaleed commented: “Our investment in Twitter reaffirms our ability in identifying suitable opportunities to invest in promising, high-growth businesses with a global impact.”

Prince Alwaleed and Kingdom Holding (KHC) have stakes in many Arab and international media and entertainment companies; including a roughly 7 percent stake in News Corp.

Here is another bit of news that makes one wonder – why would Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s investment firm, Kingdom Holdings, invest $300 million in Twitter? After all, this microblogging service helped spread the Arab Spring protests in early 2011. Perhaps this is to have a say in how Twitter runs, so that something like the Arab Spring would not happen in Saudi Arabia down the road? Either way, I would say that those who have cashed out on their Twitter shares would be happy at the kind of money they received in return.

He's also got a strong presence in the Middle Eastern media and entertainment world, with a 29.9 percent holding in the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG). He's also recently announced plans to launch a privately owned news channel, Alarab.

"We believe that social media will fundamentally change the media industry landscape in the coming years.Twitter will capture and monetize this positive trend," says Ahmed Halawani, executive director of private equity and international investments for Kingdom Holding Company.

In August, investment firm DST Global, which also owns stakes in Zynga and Groupon, took a $400 million stake in Twitter. The Techbay | All Rights Reserved.

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