updated 12:10 pm EST, Mon December 19, 2011
Snaps up 4 percent of social networking service
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has bought a just under four percent interest in social networking pioneer Twitter. Prince Alwaleed, 26th on Forbes' list of billionaires, is the nephew of Saudi King Abdullah. The Prince paid out $300 million for his investment.
The stake in Twitter by Prince Alwaleed and his investment firm, Kingdom Holding, bears some irony. During social unrest in Saudi Arabia earlier this year, the social media was used by protestors to communicate. Ultimately, King Abdullah assuaged his subjects by agreeing to a $130 billion social spending package. Most analysts, however, see Prince Alwaleed's actions being motivated by business and not politics.
"He just saw an opportunity, a money-making opportunity, nothing more, nothing less," said Emirati political scientist Abdel-Khaleq Abdullah to Reuters. "It's going to be viewed as a shrewd investment and I don't think we should read too much into it."
Twitter, currently valuated internally for approximately $8 billion, is a candidate to go public, although its management has indicated it is in no rush. Alwaleed has made significant investments in other major players in the media and in finance, including a significant holding in Citigroup and a seven percent stake in News Corp.