A five-month rally by Kingdom Holding Co. is giving lift to the investment record of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, the world’s 18th-richest person and self-proclaimed “Warren Buffett of Saudi Arabia.”
Alwaleed’s recent bets on San Francisco-based microblogging company Twitter Inc. and Beijing-based online retailer JD.com Inc., as well as potential public offerings of hospitality companies Four Seasons Hotels Inc. and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Inc., have helped reverse a slump that has weighed down his publicly traded holding company since the 2008 global financial crisis.
“We have hidden treasures, lots of rich assets that aren’t publicly traded,” Alwaleed, 58, said by phone from Crans- Montana, Switzerland, where he was vacationing with his family. “They are worth more than $11 billion to $12 billion, and the market could value them at more than double that.”
Kingdom, 95 percent-controlled by Alwaleed, has risen 52 percent since its 52-week low on Sept. 5, against a 7 percent increase for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The jump increased his net worth by 26 percent, or $6.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, while Buffett’s fortune and his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock were about flat.
Buffett is the world’s fourth-richest person, with a fortune valued at $57.8 billion. The billionaire’s lead on the Bloomberg ranking is safe, according to Alwaleed, who said he doesn’t expect to pass his “role model” anytime soon.
“Remember last year, in 2013, Buffett was one of the biggest gainers on the stock exchange, way bigger than me,” he said. “You can’t look at only four, five months. I still say Buffett is way ahead of me.”
Alwaleed’s rise comes after earlier investment blunders, including selling Apple Inc. shares in 2005, holding onto Citigroup Inc. during the financial crisis, and losing $200 million after investing in WorldCom Inc. in 2000.
“By his own admission, the prince makes good and bad choices,” said Riz Khan, author of “Alwaleed: Businessman, Billionaire, Prince,” a biography published in 2005. “However, his initial decision-making is based on fairly sound information and long-term analysis.”
Citigroup, in which Riyadh-based Kingdom had a 4 percent stake, according to a July 2007 offering prospectus, has dropped more than 90 percent since then.