Saudi business mogul Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal has significantly reduced the size of his company’s stake in News Corp., the publishing side of Rupert Murdoch’s empire, while holding fast to its 6.6% interest in 21st Century Fox.
Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding Co. confirmed the sale of $188 million worth of News Corp. stock in a statement issued Wednesday. The sale of nearly 13.2 million shares brought Kingdom’s stake down from 6.6% to about 1% of News Corp., home of the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, HarperCollins and other publishing assets.
Kingdom said the sale came as part of a regular “portfolio review” of the company’s holdings and was completed at the end of last year. Alwaleed has been the second-largest shareholder, behind the Murdoch clan, in Fox and News Corp. since 1997, so his actions are watched carefully by other investors. In a statement, Alwaleed sought to emphasize that the sale did not reflect a lack of faith in News Corp. following its split from the media and entertainment assets that have been housed since 2012 under the 21st Century Fox banner.
“The reduction of KHC’s holding in News Corp has been decided in the context of a general portfolio review. We remain firm believers in News Corp’s competent management, led by CEO Robert Thomson, and are fully supportive of Rupert Murdoch and his family,” Alwaleed said. ” Our investment in Twenty-First Century Fox, constitutes a solid foundation for our long standing relationship that we expect will endure.”
Alwaleed further noted that he has even deeper ties to 21st Century Fox through Fox’s 19% stake in Rotana Group, which the Saudi investor controls independently of Kingdom Holding.
21st Century Fox is set to report its fiscal second quarter earnings at 4 p.m. ET today.