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Tue 7 Nov 2000 04:00 AM

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Saudi billionaire doubling investment in AOL

Prince Al Waleed bin Talal believes AOL is the anchor for the dot.com economy. As others fade and die, AOL will endure he suggests.

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Al Waleed bin Talal says he plans to double his investment in America Online (AOL) to $2 billion after the firm posted good third quarter results, according to a Reuters report.

“I am planning to invest another $1 billion in America Online. The process has begun and it will be gradual and will depend on the price,” the Prince said. “America Online is the number one Internet company in the world and has a solid foundation and is making profit. And when the dust settles on the dot.com industry, America Online will be around.”

The Prince already has a $1.05 billion investment in the world’s largest Internet services company.

Al Waleed said that while many dot.com firms were “collapsing and going under left and right”, America Online was the “anchor of the industry.”

AOL, which is waiting US regulatory approvals for its merger with Time Warner Inc., said in October its fiscal first-quarter profit doubled from a year-ago to $340 million.

Al Waleed, known for his high-profile international investments, said in May he had recently invested $1 billion in 15 US companies, including six Internet firms and two telecommunications companies.

The 43-year-old Prince, who is a nephew of Saudi King Fahd, said in April he was taking a cautious approach to the technology sector and would not be swept away by dotcom frenzy.

Al Waleed, who also has substantial investments in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, was ranked last year by Forbes magazine as the richest businessmen outside the United States.

The Prince also hold investments in banks, hotels, broadcasting, airlines, computers, cars and real estate.

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