By Shane McGinley
Richest person in Arab world sees fortune soar in one week, data compiled by Bloomberg shows
Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal saw his fortune soar US$2.2bn last week after his company, Kingdom Holding, saw shares rise 17.6 percent, according to figures compiled by Bloomberg.
The Bloomberg Billionaires Index tracks the wealth of the world’s 40 richest men and last week their combined wealth rose US$29.5bn, with the Saudi tycoon the biggest earner.
KHC, which in March said it was seeking to sell bonds for the first time, last week announced one its key assets, the Four Seasons hotel group, was to undertake a refurbishment of the Paris’ iconic George V hotel.
The Riyadh-based company, 95 percent owned by Prince Alwaleed, is building the tallest tower in the world in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at a cost of SAR4.6bn (US$1.2bn). The company said in August it will use a mix of bank financing, cash and revenue from the project to fund the development. Kingdom Holding had current bank borrowings and terms loans of SAR1.46bnat the end of last year, according to its financial statement.
KHC in July reported a 9.4 percent rise in its second quarter net profit. The firm made a net profit of SAR178.9m during the second quarter this year, compared to SAR163.5m in the same period a year earlier.
The rise in profits was attributed to high profits from the company's investments and sale of real estate investments which made up for the loss made from hotel revenues in the Middle East due to unrest in the region, KHC said in a statement.
KHC has minority stakes in some of the world's top companies. Aside from being one of the largest shareholders in Citigroup, it also owns stakes in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and microblogging site Twitter.
The prince, a nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, was ranked the richest Arab businessman last year by Arabian Business magazine with assets valued at US$21.3bn.