By Anil Bhoyrul
Kingdom Holding chairman says he is vindicated by decision to stick with News Corp
Saudi Arabia’s HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said he has been vindicated by his decision to stick by Rupert Murdoch, describing the News Corporation chairman as “an honourable man”.
In an interview published in Arabian Business as part of the publication’s 2012 Rich List, Prince Alwaleed said he was right to resist pressure to reconsider his 7 percent stake in News Corp after the UK publishing giant’s phone hacking scandal.
“We were vindicated, because we don’t run away from our companies in times of crisis. Especially Rupert Murdoch - he is an honorable man. Clearly what took place is not right but Rupert is out of this whole thing and we’ve been vindicated,” he says.
News Corp shares have risen by 34 percent this year on the back of its demerger plans, helping in turn boost Kingdom Holding shares, which have risen by more than 140 percent this year.
Prince Alwaleed told Arabian Business: “When you have a conglomerate like News Corp, inevitably you will have a bad apple. The fact that there were some issues at News International doesn’t mean at all that News Corp is a bad company. There were some issues and I believe the other media outlets ballooned this whole thing and blew it out of proportion, because they were not able to attack News Corp in its core businesses. They could not get at it in the normal competitive arena, so they tried to get at it by exaggerating what happened in News International.”
In the same interview, the Saudi prince also revealed he felt “uncomfortable” about Facebook’s share price when it floated, which is why he did not invest in the company. He explained: “To be honest, it’s nice to be humble but also to be honest. We did monitor the company very well, but we did not feel very comfortable from the beginning. I mean, Facebook is a spectacular company, but we felt uncomfortable with the pricing. It was priced at an extremely high side at US$38. When we invest in a company we like to get good returns to our shareholders. So we put our returns and then calculate backwards. So at the price of the IPO, I can tell you that we did not see good returns.”