Saudi Prince Invested $500 Million in Russia Just Days before Ukraine Invasion

In the days leading up to Vladamir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Saudi Arabia’s billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal invested a staggering $500 million in Russia, according to reports.

According to a stock exchange filing, Prince Alwaleed’s investment firm, Kingdom Holding, acquired depositary receipts issued by Gazprom PSJC, Lukoil PJSC, and Rosneft PJSC.

While no specific dates are given, the investments were made in February, according to Bloomberg.

Due to the investments being made that month, there was only a small window that places the dates around Russia invading Ukraine on Feb. 24.

After the initial invasion, the value of all those depositary receipts dropped rapidly when trading in Moscow was halted and western sanctions were imposed on Russia, according to Zero Hedge.

Most Russian stocks traded offshore were wiped out in the days following the invasion.

Kingdom Holding invested 1.37 billion riyals ($365 million) in Gazprom’s American depositary receipts in February.

It was the biggest stake of those disclosed so far this year.

The prince also invested 196 million riyals ($52M) in Rosneft’s global depositary receipts the same month and 410 million riyals ($109M) in Lukoil’s ADRs between February and March.

Alwaleed’s grandfather was the founder of modern Saudi Arabia.

However, he ended up being a “five-star” prisoner in the Riyadh Ritz in Nov 2017 for 83 days following a decree of the new de facto ruler (and his cousin) Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He was released after reaching an undisclosed “confirmed understanding” with the government, which cost him a substantial chunk of his wealth.

Despite his troubles, Alwaleed is still one of the country’s richest men and most high-profile international investors.

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More recently he has been eclipsed by the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, controlled by MBS, which acquired a 16.9% stake in Kingdom Holding in May.

Kingdom Holding invested $3.4 billion in global equities and depositary receipts since 2020, based on the filing, a rare bit of disclosure by the company.

The largest stake was an investment valued at 2.5 billion riyals in Spain’s Telefonica SA between April to August 2020.

It also disclosed stakes in Uber, TotalEnergies, Alibaba Group Holding, and BHP Group, acquired mostly in 2020 and 2021.

The most recent deal it disclosed was a 178 million riyal ($47.4M) stake in Hercules Capital made in June.

The venture capital firm’s shares have risen 17% since the start of July.

As Bloomberg reports, Prince Alwaleed, 67, became one of the highest-profile Saudi investors after taking stakes in companies such as Citigroup and Apple.

He has supported Prince Mohammed’s modernization efforts, including giving women the right to drive.

More recently he announced the sale of a stake in his Rotana Music label to Warner Music Group, and he raised $2.2 billion by selling part of his stake in the Four Seasons hotel chain to Bill Gates’s Cascade Investment LLC.

Alwaleed is known for long-term investments and is a fan of famed investor Warren Buffett.

He once called himself the Oracle of Omaha’s Arabian equivalent.

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By Frank Bergman

Frank Bergman is a political/economic journalist living on the east coast. Aside from news reporting, Bergman also conducts interviews with researchers and material experts and investigates influential individuals and organizations in the sociopolitical world.

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