Nov 12 (Reuters) - Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was named on Monday as the first private buyer of an A380 superjumbo, the world’s largest passenger airliner.
Here are some key facts about Prince Alwaleed, the richest Arab investor:
* Alwaleed, 52, was born in Riyadh to Prince Talal, son of Saudi Arabia’s founder Abdulaziz al-Saud, and Princess Mona el-Solh. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud is also a nephew of Saudi King Abdullah.
* Prince Alwaleed has amassed an enormous fortune from investing in shares, property and recently the Arab music and entertainment industry, all under the giant Kingdom Holding Company. He has been dubbed the Arabian Warren Buffett by Time magazine.
* His estimated fortune is more than $20.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine, making him the wealthiest Muslim businessman. He is ranked 13th in the March 2007 Forbes list.
* Alwaleed began investing after graduating from California’s Menlo College in 1979, and a year later he received a $300,000 loan from Saudi American Bank, which was run by Citicorp, according to his biography.
* In 1991, he invested $590 million in Citicorp as it struggled with Latin American loan losses and U.S. real estate market collapse. That stake is now worth about $6 billion. His investments were later given a boost with a 116 percent rise in the Saudi stock market in 2004.
* He later acquired substantial interests in AOL, Apple Computer Inc., Worldcom, Motorola Inc., News Corporation Inc. and others. His company’s real estate holdings include stakes in the Four Seasons hotel chain and the Plaza Hotel in New York. He also owns London’s Savoy Hotel which he purchased in 2005 for 230 million pounds.
* He has for a long time stayed outside of the core of political power in Saudi Arabia though recently voiced critical statements of Saudi traditionalism and the need for political and economic reforms as well as boosting women’s rights. He has hired the first female airline pilot in Saudi Arabia.
* He donated a combined $40 million to Georgetown University and Harvard University for the expansion of their Islamic studies programs in December 2005.
* His offer in 2001 of a $10 million donation to the City of New York for relief efforts after the 9/11 attacks was turned down by then New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on the grounds that the prince’s comments that Washington “must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack” could be construed as a justification of the attacks, perpetrated by mainly Saudi nationals.
Sources: Reuters; Forbes (www.forbes.com); Kingdom Holding (www.kingdom.com.sa) (Writing by Nagesh Narayana; Editing by David Cutler/Elizabeth Fullerton)