Prince Alwaleed in new Forbes rich list criticism

Saudi billionaire issues second statement to question 'fairness and objectivity' of wealth rankings
Prince Alwaleed in new Forbes rich list criticism
By Andy Sambidge
Fri 08 Mar 2013 09:42 AM

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holding, has launched a new attack on US magazine Forbes over its latest estimation of the Saudi billionaire's wealth.

In a second statement issued on behalf of the Prince, the Arab world's wealthiest individual, he questioned the "fairness and objectivity" of Forbes' valuation process and claimed it was an "insult".

It added that Forbes had acknowledged the concerns raised and had pledged to "strive for accuracy".

On Tuesday the latest Forbes billionaires list said the prince was worth $20bn - far less than the $25.9bn estimate by Arabian Business three months ago.

The statement, issued by Shadi Sanbar, chief financial officer of Kingdom Holding Co, said suggestions by Forbes that the investment firm had switched auditors in a row over the value of the company were "not true".

"Corporate Governance experts in the aftermath of Enron recommend changing auditor firms with regularity and Saudi Arabia requires public companies to change auditors every three years," said the new statement.

"The switch to Price Waterhouse was part of this mandated switch. There were no disputes with Ernst and Young who would have been required to disclose them if they existed," it added.

The statement continued: "An implication in the accompanying Forbes article is that Kingdom Holding is less than transparent in its financial reporting and that even our auditors were suspicious. Nothing could be further from the truth."

In an earlier statement, Prince Alwaleed and Kingdom Holding Co announced that they have ended their long-standing relationship with the Forbes Billionaires List.

The relationship was severed in a letter from Alwaleed requesting that he be removed from the list and informing Forbes that Kingdom Holding officials would no longer work with the Forbes valuation teams.

The statement cited a number of issues with Forbes, including "a sudden refusal after six years to accept share values as listed by the Tadawul – Saudi Arabia’s fully regulated stock exchange".

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