Saudi Prince Buys $300 Million Twitter Stake - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Saudi Prince Buys $300 Million Twitter Stake

MSNBC.COM - Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, an investor in some of the world's top companies, has bought a stake in Twitter for $300 million, gaining another foothold in the global media industry.

Alwaleed, a nephew of Saudi Arabia's king and estimated by Forbes magazine to be the 26th richest person in the world with a $19.6 billion fortune, already owns a 7 percent stake in News Corp and plans to start a cable news channel.

The purchase is remarkable because Twitter was a key means of communication for protesters in the Arab Spring revolts this year, violence that threatened Saudi Arabia until the kingdom unveiled a populist $130 billion social spending package.

Twitter, which allows people to send 140-character messages, or Tweets, to groups of followers, is one of the internet's most popular social networking services, along with Facebook and Zynga.

The Twitter stake, bought jointly by Alwaleed and his Kingdom Holding Co investment firm, resulted from "months of negotiations", Kingdom said.

Bernhard Warner, co-founder of analysis and advisory firm Social Media Influence, said: "The Arab world, of course, knows full well the value of Twitter. In the past year, it has been a force in politics, in regime change, so there is not a single person in that region in a position of influence who is not following the increasing power of Twitter.

"(Alwaleed) must see Twitter as something that is going to be a really powerful broadcast channel," he said, adding the Saudi had got into the internet boom belatedly, with mixed results, and appeared to be "kind of late" to the game again.

Investors in Saudi Arabia were more bullish, sending shares in Kingdom up 7 percent to 8.40 riyals.

"One of the few sectors to record significant revenue gains in the last three years has been technology, which is why Kingdom would see Twitter as a good addition to its diversified portfolio," said Hesham Tuffaha, head of asset management at Bakheet Investment Group in Riyadh.

Saudis are increasingly turning to satellite television, online news providers and social networking to stay abreast of world events. The world's No. 1 oil exporter announced a series of stricter regulations for journalists earlier this year. click here to read more

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