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Saudi Prince Buys £193m Stake In Twitter

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed buys a stake in Twitter through investment company

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia has acquired a $300 million (£193m) stake in micro-blogging site Twitter.

The prince has an estimated fortune of around $20 billion (£13bn) and has bought the stake with the Kingdom Holding Company investment firm.

Royal Approval

In a statement, the Kingdom Holding Company said the investment was “the result of several months of negotiations and comprehensive due diligence”.

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

“We believe that social media will fundamentally change the media industry landscape in the coming years. Twitter will capture and monetise this positive trend,” added Ahmed Halwani, executive director of private equity and international investments at Kingdom Holding Company.

The acquisition expands Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s portfolio of media interests. He is the second largest investor of News Corporation with a seven percent stake in the company, while the Kingdom Holding Company owns a 29.9 percent stake in Saudi Research and Marketing Group, which publishes a number of publications.

Twitter seems to be just the tip of the iceberg for Prince Alwaleed, who has also announced plans to launch his own news channel in the near future.

Interesting Development

The acquisition is an interesting development given Saudi Arabia’s complicated recent relationship with various forms of Internet communication.

In November last year, the Kingdom reportedly blocked access to Facebook for one weekend but claimed that this was the result of an “accidental error”, despite reports it had stated the social network had “crossed a line” and offended the country’s moral values.

It has also been embroiled in a struggle with BlackBerry manufacturer RIM, which has refused to bow to pressure from the Saudi government, which wants to monitor messages sent using Blackberry Messenger.

Twitter currently has over 100m global active users but has struggled to generate revenue despite its popularity. However, it has attracted significant investment and has made moves to strengthen its business model, such as the launch of Facebook-style business pages and promoted tweets.