Citigroup, Twitter, Lyft: Prince’s Arrest Touches Many

Citigroup, Twitter, Lyft: Prince’s Arrest Touches Many

- in World Biz
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HONG KONG — With the arrest of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the prominent billionaire investor, Saudi Arabia has touched one of the richest and most influential investors in the world.

Among Prince Alwaleed’s crown jewels: sizable stakes in Twitter, Lyft and Citigroup. He has gone into business with some of the corporate world’s biggest titans, including Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Michael R. Bloomberg.

His investments span the globe, including the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris, the Savoy in London and the Plaza in New York. He has also invested in the AccorHotels chain and Canary Wharf, the London business development.

So vast are his investments that he has been referred to as the Warren Buffett of the Middle East.

Prince Alwaleed’s arrest is likely to reverberate across dozens of companies around the world that count the investment company that he founded, Kingdom Holding, as a major investor or shareholder.

The move was part of a sweeping and unprecedented roundup of at least 10 other princes, four ministers and dozens of former ministers, hours after the Saudi ruler, King Salman, decreed the creation of a powerful new anticorruption committee, led by his favorite son and top adviser, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The arrests appeared to be the crown prince’s latest step to make good on his ambitious modernization plans and to further consolidate the remarkable degree of power he has amassed at age 32 over military, foreign, economic and social policies. His ascent and brash approach have angered some members of the royal family.

Prince Alwaleed, a 62-year-old with an Omar Sharif mustache, ubiquitous sunshades and penchant for publicity, is a relatively flamboyant figure for the royal family and is one of the most high-profile Saudis internationally. His arrest seems aimed at demonstrating that no one is beyond the reach of the committee and the crown prince.

The confinement of the princes, said to be in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, could be a particularly strange experience for Prince Alwaleed, who owns stakes in a number of Four Seasons hotels.

Prince Alwaleed’s style was on display during a trip to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, in August. In a turn worthy of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, a promotional video from the trip shows the prince, bare-chested and wearing a pair of shorts, leading an entourage of men around the resort — cycling, playing beach volleyball, doing the backstroke, water-skiing, and hiking up a mountain, pumping his arms above his head triumphantly while clutching a cellphone in one hand.

Set to action-movie music, much of the video unfolds against the backdrop of his 280-foot yacht, the Kingdom 5KR.