Financial markets are bracing for the potential fallout Monday from the surprising arrest of Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the billionaire and global investor who holds stakes in digital and entertainment companies Twitter, Apple, and Euro Disney.
Alwaleed is among 11 princes and 38 current or former senior Saudi officials who have reportedly been detained as part of an alleged anti-corruption purge. Experts say the mass arrests are actually a move to consolidate 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s hold on power by removing potential opposition.
Other detainees include Alwaleed al-Ibrahim, owner and chairman of Dubai-based Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), which is the Arab world’s leading satellite television network.
News broke early Sunday local time that Alwaleed had been picked up by law enforcement agents in his Saudi desert camp.
With a net worth of about $19 billion, Alwaleed is ranked the world’s 50th richest person by the Bloomberg Billionaires index. He is the founder of investment company Kingdom Holding, based in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The prince also controls Rotana Media Group, the world’s largest producer of Arabic music and a prominent Middle East film distributor and producer.
Kingdom Holding reportedly holds a roughly 5% stake in Twitter, a 5% stake in Apple and an undisclosed stake in Euro Disney.
His past entertainment investments include the financing of Michael Jackson’s world “History Tour” in 1996.
Joice Mathew, head of equity research at United Securities in Muscat, told Bloomberg that stocks linked to Kingdom Holding will “be hammered in trading tomorrow, unless you see some sort of comment or statement from the companies or Alwaleed himself.”
A spokesman for Kingdom Holding could not immediately be reached for comment.