Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who has been dubbed the “Saudi Warren Buffet” for his shrewd investing skills, especially in major global media companies, this morning announced a $300 million stake in Twitter, calling it a “promising, high-growth business opportunity with a global impact.”.
In a statement, Alwaleed said the investment was the result of several months of negotiations and “comprehensive due diligence,” and he called the investment a “strategic stake.”
Ahmed Halawani, executive director of private equity and international investments at Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding Co. (KHC), added, “We believe that social media will fundamentally change the media industry landscape in the coming years. Twitter will capture and monetize this positive trend."
The investment may have been made for purely financial investment reasons, but it is worth noting that social media, particularly Twitter, are believed to have played a significant role in the so-called Arab Spring uprising that led to regime changes in several Arabic nations.
Alwaleed already has a strong presence and wields significant influence in the media industry through his investments in entertainment and media entities in the Arab world, and beyond, including the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), in which KHC holds a 29.9% stake.
Publications that fall under SRMG include Asharq Al Awsat, Al Eqtisadiah, Arab News, Hia magazine, Al Majalla magazine, Arrajol magazine and Sayidati magazine. Furthermore, other entities that fall under SRMG are advertising and public relations firm Al Khaleejiya and printing firm Al Madina Printing.
KHC is also owner of approximately 7% stake in News Corp.
Alwaleed also recently announced his plans to launch his privately owned Alarab news channel.
The investment in Twitter follows a $400 million round of venture capital that was raised by the micro blogging service last summer, and is bound to fuel speculation about plans for an initial public offering, though the company has indicated it is in no rush to take itself public.