Saudi Prince to donate entire $32-billion? First, lets follow the money.
Saudi Arabia’s billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal spoke to reporters during a press conference in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on July 1, 2015. Alwaleed pledged his entire $32-billion(28.8-billion-euro) fortune to charitable projects over the coming years. The prince said in a statement that the “philanthropic pledge will help build bridges to foster cultural understanding, develop communities, empower women, enable youth, provide vital disaster relief and create a more tolerant and accepting world.”
The magnate belongs to the Saudi royal family and is a nephew of King Abdullah, whose father was the founding king of modern Saudi Arabia. He is no stranger to the United States or Western media. He considers himself a “great friend” of America and the “world’s foremost value investor.”
He’s really rich:
- Like, flowers flown in from Holland on a weekly basis to his palace rich;
- Private zoo at his country estate rich;
- First person in the world to order an Airbus A380, a double-decker jet with space for luxury vehicles, horses and a pivoting prayer space that always points to Mecca, rich.
The American-educated multibillionaire has made investments around the world, including many in Western entities such as CitiGroup, the George V hotel in Paris, the Plaza hotel in New York, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Apple, TimeWarner, Saks, Twitter (here’s his account) and yes, News Corp.
In July 2013, Bloomberg rated him the 16th richest man in the world, with a net worth of $26.6 billion. Forbes ranked him No. 26 earlier at $20 billion and followed up with a story about his wealth that infuriated Alwaleed, who threatened to sue for libel and said the magazine undervalued his net worth. Forbes defended its work.
Alwaleed’s interest in News Corp., the media conglomerate of Rupert Murdoch and once-parent company to Fox News, started in 1997 with a $400 million investment, according to a description of the investment on Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding Co.’s website. That was 3 percent of News Corp.’s worth. In 2005, he increased his holding to 5.5 percent, the site states.
The picture is a little different now because News Corp., split into two companies in June 2013 amid fallout from the company’s phone-hacking controversy with its British newspapers.
The move spawned a new News Corp., housing publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and Vogue. A second company, 21st Century Fox, oversees movies and TV programming, including the Fox News Channel.
Murdoch is chairman of both companies and controls just under 80 percent of the voting stock in each (between himself and his family trust). Who’s next in line? According to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, it’s Alwaleed.
Alwaleed owns 7 percent of Class B voting stock with 21st Century Fox, second only to Murdoch, as of Aug. 19. The filing notes, in compliance with federal securities law, 40 percent of Alwaleed’s voting rights are suspended because he is not an American citizen.
The relationship with Murdoch is reciprocal. News Corp., has a sizable stake in Rotana, a broadcasting company that airs Arabic and English programming in the Middle East. Alwaleed owns an 80 percent stake of Rotana, according to Bloomberg.
To date Alwaleed still has sizable interest in Fox News, second only to Murdoch in this aspect. Despite selling much of his stock in News Corp, he still maintains a 6.6% holding in 21st Century Fox. Experts told us that translates to being the No. 2 owner of Fox News. His investment resembles other stocks held in major companies by mutual funds and investment firms, who invest big in public companies.
According to the prince the donation “will be allocated according to a well-devised plan throughout the coming years,” he said, but stressed there was no time limit for the donation to be spent, having said he would head a board of trustees tasked with spending the funds, adding that the pledge would still be used after his death “for humanitarian projects and initiatives”.
At a press conference, he said his pledge was modelled on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the United States.
“This is very much separate from my ownership in Kingdom Holding,” and there should be no impact on the publicly listed company’s share price, Alwaleed told reporters on the 66th-floor headquarters of the firm which he chairs.
In the conservative Muslim kingdom, Alwaleed, though he holds no government rank, is unusual for his high profile and periodic comments about economic issues and foreign policy. So who is this mysterious “benevolent international billionaire” who is buying up stakes in America’s most-important companies?
In 1987 Bill Ayers solicited Khalid Abdullah Tariq al-Mansour to raise money for Obama’s Harvard Law School education. al-Mansour is an orthodox Muslim, a black nationalist, an outspoken enemy of Israel, and mentor to Black Panther Party founder Huey Newton and his cohort, Bobby Seale. At the time al-Mansour associate Percy Sutton was raising money for Obama’s education, al-Mansour was the top financial advisor to mega-billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of the Saudi royal family.
Now, A former al-Qaeda operative imprisoned in the United States has told lawyers that members of the Saudi royal family provided millions of dollars to the terrorist group in the 1990s. Zacarias Moussaoui, a 46-year-old French citizen, made the revelations in a testimony filed in a New York federal court on Tuesday by lawyers for victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks who accuse Riyadh of sponsoring al-Qaeda.
Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, including the passengers and crew of a hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. The New York Times reported on Feb. 3 that Moussaoui gave a deposition in a lawsuit filed against the Saudi Arabian government by relatives of the 9/11 victims.
In his deposition, Moussaoui identified “prominent members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family as major donors” to al Qaeda in the late 1990s, according to the Times.
Feb. 3, New York Times: He said in the prison deposition that he was directed in 1998 or 1999 by Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan to create a digital database of donors to the group. Among those he said he recalled listing in the database were Prince Turki al-Faisal, then the Saudi intelligence chief; Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States; Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a prominent billionaire investor; and many of the country’s leading clerics.
“Sheikh Osama wanted to keep a record who give money,” he said in imperfect English — “who is to be listened to or who contributed to the jihad.”
Mr. Moussaoui said he acted as a courier for Bin Laden, carrying personal messages to prominent Saudi princes and clerics. And he described his training in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.