Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

The Telegraph reports:

In a rare interview, Prince tells Christian Sylt about his anger over the Rich List, which estimated that he is worth $20bn – $9.6bn less than he claims and not enough to place him in the coveted top 10.

Heh, most people claim these rich lists over-estimate their wealth. Not often someone is angry that they say the estimate is too low!

Prince Alwaleed is the 58-year-old grandson of the founder of Saudi Arabia but not one drop of his fortune comes from oil or inheritance. Instead, he made his money by investing in global brands at a time when their share prices were depressed. Along the way he has built up significant stakes in trophy assets such as Apple, Citigroup, Disney and the Savoy Hotel in London. His portfolio spans the globe and he likes people to know it.

I admire people whose wealth is earnt, not inherited.

The dispute has drawn attention to the extent of Prince Alwaleed’s influence. His career was kick-started with a $30,000 loan from his father after graduating with a degree in business administration from California’s Menlo College in 1979.

His father also gave Prince Alwaleed a house which he mortgaged, raising about $400,000, and each month, as a grandson of Ibn Saud, the first king and founder of Saudi Arabia, he receives a $15,000 allowance. The prince was no pauper, but it was business savvy that built his wealth.

They say the first million is the hardest but even without that initial assistance, he’s done pretty well. But he does seem obsessed with having his worth seen as high as possible. The Wikipedia article on him quotes:

Kerry A. Dolan, the editor of Forbes billionaires list wrote the article Prince Alwaleed and the Curious Case of Kingdom Holding Stock upon the 2013 publication of the list.[6] Dolan wrote of the importance of the list to Al Waleed, most notably detailing the leap in the share price of Kingdom Holdings in the time leading up to the publication of the list.[6] Al Waleed would blind copy Dolan on text messages he sent to prominent people to impress her, she also spent a week with him in Riyadh in 2008, at his behest, touring his palaces. In 2006 Forbes estimated his net worth as $7 billion less than Al Waleed claimed. He telephoned Dolan at her home, with Dolan claiming that he sounded “nearly in tears”.[6] Al Waleed also had Kingdom Holding’s chief financial officer fly to New York before a previous list had been published to ensure that Forbes used his stated numbers.[6] Dolan wrote that “…for the past few years former Alwaleed executives have been telling me that the prince, while indeed one of the richest men in the world, systematically exaggerates his net worth by several billion dollars….The value that the prince puts on his holdings at times feels like an alternate reality, including his publicly traded Kingdom Holding, which rises and falls based on factors that, coincidentally, seem more tied to the Forbes billionaires list than fundamentals.”

If I had $30 billion I wouldn’t get upset if people said it was only $20 billion!

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