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Saudi prince invests $300 million in Twitter

Sun, 12/18/2011 - 11:05pm
ADAM SCHRECK - AP Business Writer - Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and his investment company said Monday they are investing a combined $300 million into the microblogging site Twitter.

The joint investment with Alwaleed's Kingdom Holding Co. follows months of negotiations and represents a strategic stake in Twitter, according to the Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based investment firm.

Alwaleed, who has a long history of investing in media and technology, said the deal represents an interest in investing "in promising, high-growth businesses with a global impact."

Twitter allows users to send short messages of up to 140 characters. It has been instrumental in connecting protesters and relaying on-the-ground developments during this year's Arab Spring uprisings.

"We believe that social media will fundamentally change the media industry landscape in the coming years. Twitter will capture and monetize this positive trend," Ahmed Halawani, KHC's executive director of private equity and international investments, said in a statement.

Alwaleed is the main shareholder in KHC, which has a major stake in Citigroup Inc. KHC also holds stakes in other Western giants, including Apple Inc. and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

In February 2010, Alwaleed's Rotana Group media company agreed to sell a stake of just over 9 percent to News Corp. for $70 million.

Alwaleed is in the process of launching a new Arabic news channel that will challenge established players such as Qatar's Al-Jazeera and Saudi-funded Al-Arabiya.

The channel, which will be called Alarab, is expected to begin operations next year and will feature reports from business news service Bloomberg LP. Alwaleed has said he hopes the new network will focus on the shifts taking place across the Arab world, with an emphasis on freedom of speech and of the press.

KHC also owns a sizable stake in a Saudi media company that publishes the influential Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat and other publications.

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