Prince Alwaleed and Forbes settle libel case

Case related to US magazine's annual rich list, which saw the Saudi billionaire excluded from top 10
By Staff writer
Tue 16 Jun 2015 12:54 PM

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Forbes have released a statement saying they have settled the Saudi billionaire’s case against the US-based media company and two of its writers.

The settlement, according to the statement, was “on mutually agreeable terms”.

“Given the opening of the Saudi stock exchange to foreign investors beginning in June 2015, Forbes and the other defendants are currently comfortable with using the stock price of Prince Alwaleed’s publicly traded investment firm, Kingdom Holding Company, in valuing the KHC component of Prince Alwaleed’s wealth,” said the statement.

In June last year, Prince Alwaleed launched a libel action against the New Jersey-based magazine, three months after Alwaleed cut ties with Forbes after accusing it of underestimating his wealth in its billionaires list. The magazine said the prince was worth $20 billion - far less than the $25.9 billion estimated by Arabian Business in early 2014.

In court documents seen by the UK’s The Guardian newspaper, Prince Alwaleed claimed the magazine used flawed methodology to calculate his wealth and has accused Forbes of purposefully leaving him out of the top 10.

In November last year, both sides had claimed victory in the case, with contrasting statements released by Prince Alwaleed and Forbes.

"The Prince has consistently maintained that Forbes defamed him by falsely accusing him of defaulting on important contractual obligations, dishonestly manipulating the share price of Kingdom Holding Company, and firing KHC's auditor because it raised concerns that KHC's value was over-estimated," the 2014 statement by Alwaleed said in relation to articles written by the magazine in April 2013.

“… the court confirms that the Forbes articles made defamatory accusations, thereby strengthening Prince Alwaleed's claims. The lawsuit will now move forward to hold Forbes accountable for their inaccurate reporting, to correct these false and damaging allegations and to vindicate HRH Prince Alwaleed's reputation," the statement added.

Forbes in its statement said: "The Prince claimed that the magazine accused him of manipulating his company’s share price to inflate his net worth and raise his ranking on the Forbes list. The Court rejected that claim, finding the articles merely detailed the magazine’s strong grounds for suspecting that the Prince had sought to mislead readers of its list by inflating Kingdom Holding's share price, and thereby his net worth, by billions of dollars. The court also dismissed the Prince’s company, Kingdom Holding, as a plaintiff in the case.”

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