Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holding, has hit back at reports by Forbes magazine that the Saudi stock exchange is easy to manipulate as ‘insulting’ to the Gulf state.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph Prince Alwaleed said he will pursue legal action against the magazine.
“They are accusing me of market manipulation,” he said. “This is all wrong and a false statement. We will fight it all the way against Forbes.”
Alwaleed’s comments follow two weeks after the American magazine said the prince was worth US$20bn, which is US$9.6bn less than the prince claims he is worth.
Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding, which owns a string of high profile assets including Apple and Citigroup, has a market capitalisation of US$19.9bn but Forbes used its own valuation of US$10.6bn.
Forbes said it was concerned the publically-traded Kingdom Holding rises and falls based on factors “that coincidentally, seem to be more tied to the Forbes billionaires list than fundamentals”.
The magazine quoted an unnamed source that said that the Tadawul “is incredibly easy to manipulate” and also spoke to a former Kingdom executive who claimed that making plays on the exchange is “the national sport” because there “are no casinos. It’s the gambling site of the Saudis”.
“I am not pursuing it because of my wealth, but because they are accusing Saudi Arabia of being manipulated because we have no casinos. This is unacceptable,” Prince Alwaleed told the Sunday Telegraph.
“Frankly speaking, the media, the businessmen and the banks in Saudi Arabia are on our side. Saudi Arabia is not a small country and it is very respectable.
“Saudi Arabia is a G20 country. This is very insulting for Saudi Arabia. To take the market capitalisation of Kingdom Holding and cut it in half can’t be accepted at all.”
“We will have to defend the rights of shareholders in Kingdom Holding and we will have to defend Saudi Arabia very vehemently and openly.”
Prince Alwaleed has since threatened to take legal action against Forbes. In a statement issued last week Kingdom Holding said it had severed all ties with the magazine. In a second statement released Friday, the prince questioned the “fairness and objectivity” of Forbes’ valuation process.
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