Who Is Alwaleed bin Talal? What Is a Holding Company?

Alwaleed bin Talal is the founder of the Kingdom Holding Company, a Saudi Arabian conglomerate that invests in hotels, real estate, and publicly traded companies worldwide. 

Regarded as one of the wealthiest global investors, Alwaleed bin Talal’s net worth in 2022 was $16 billion.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Alwaleed bin Talal is a billionaire and member of the Saudi Arabian royal family.
  • He is the founder of the Kingdom Holding Company.
  • Alwaleed bin Talal has been listed on Time Magazine’s list of most influential people and is considered the ‘Warren Buffett’ of Saudi Arabia.

Early Life and Education

Alwaleed bin Talal was born on March 7, 1955, in Saudi Arabia. With his birth, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal became a member of the House of Saud, the royal family of Saudi Arabia. He is the grandson of Saudi Arabia’s first monarch, King Ibn Saud, and the nephew of the nation’s last King, Abdullah Saud. His mother, Princess Mona Al Solh, was the daughter of the first Prime Minister of Lebanon.

In 1975, Alwaleed bin Talal traveled to the United States to pursue his education. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Menlo College in California in 1979 and a master’s degree from Syracuse University in 1985.

Following graduation, Alwaleed bin Talal returned to Saudi Arabia to launch a career in business.

The Investor

In 1980, Alwaleed bin Talal founded the Kingdom Holding Company. As a devout value investor, Alwaleed uses Kingdom Holding as a vehicle to hold an internationally diverse portfolio of businesses operating in many sectors including banking, real estate, and healthcare.

When Kingdom Holding launched, Saudi Arabia required foreign companies interested in operating in the country to have partners and representatives who were citizens of the kingdom. Proving a lucrative opportunity, Alwaleed bin Talal represented international companies and claimed ownership stakes in the projects he helped to facilitate. By 1989, he had amassed a personal net worth of $1 billion.

Holding Company

A company whose primary business is holding a controlling interest in the securities of other companies. 

Kingdom Holding diversified its investment portfolio, acquiring the failing United Saudi Commercial Bank, ultimately acquired by Samba Financial Group, the Saudi kingdom’s largest financial institution. During the 1990s, Kingdom Holding purchased a 4.9% stake in Citigroup in the United States and it remains a core part of the Kingdom Holding portfolio. 

Alwaleed bin Talal’s notable investments include stakes in Four Seasons Hotel Ltd., Euro Disney, and Lyft as well as the Hotel George V in Paris and the Savoy Hotel in London. He was one of Twitter’s earliest investors before its public offering, and News Corporation, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal and HarperCollins publishers.  In August 2018, he announced a $250 million investment in Snap Inc. that would give him a 2.3% stake in the company.

By 2022, Kingdom Holding had a market capitalization, the market value of its publicly-traded shares, of nearly $10.3 billion.

What Philanthropic Organizations has Alwaleed bin Talal Founded?

Alwaleed bin Talal oversees Alwaleed Philanthropies which includes Alwaleed Philanthropies “Global”, focusing on philanthropic and humanitarian projects around the world, Alwaleed Philanthropies Lebanon, which is focused on the social and community needs of Lebanon, and Alwaleed Philanthropies Saudi Arabia, which focuses on the needs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

How Has Alwaleed bin Talal Invested in Climate Change?

In December 2016, Alwaleed bin Talal joined Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition with the promise of a $50 million investment.

What Investments Does Alwaleed bin Talal Have Besides Those With Kingdom Holding?

Alwaleed bin Talal owns real estate in Saudi Arabia and the majority of the Arabic-language entertainment firm Rotana.

The Bottom Line

Alwaleed bin Talal is a Saudi royal and billionaire. A renowned international investor, his Kingdom Holding Company owns significant stakes in companies around the world, including Citigroup and Snap.