By Sana Elouazi
By Sana Elouazi
Rabat – The shares in Kingdom Holding, an international investment company of which 95 percent is owned by billionaire Saudi Prince Al-Walid bin Talal, fell by 9.9 percent on Sunday morning, following the day of his arrest.
Al-Walid, one of the biggest shareholders of Twitter, News Corps, and Citigroup, was reportedly arrested late on Saturday along with 10 senior princes and other Saudi officials for charges of corruption and money laundering.
The massive, unprecedented purge came hours after a Saudi royal decree announced the formation of an anti-corruption commission headed by the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who promptly ordered a high-profile cabinet reshuffle.
The future Saudi king has tightened his grip on power through the alleged corruption-fighting committee. His powers include “the ability to trace funds and assets, and prevent their transfer or liquidation on behalf of individuals or entities, along with the right to take any precautionary actions until cases are referred to relevant investigatory or judiciary authorities,” said a government statement.
Shares in Kingdom Holding, formed in 1979 by Prince Al-Walid, with interests in Citigroup, Apple, and Euro Disney amusement Park and , dropped 9.9 percent as the Saudi stock exchange opened on Sunday after the crackdown.
However, the Kingdom Holding shares have not fallen further, because, according to the rules of the Saudi exchange, stocks can not slide down more than 10 percent during a trading session.
In addition, the Saudi Tadawul All-Shares Index (TASI), the largest stock market in the region, also dropped 1.6 percent, just one minute after its opening following the purge in the Al-Saud Kingdom.
According to analysts, the arrest of Al-Walid will certainly trigger repercussions on companies in which he has invested billions of dollars around the world, as he owns, aside from stakes in Citigroup and Twitter, more than 200 hotels worldwide.
The Saudi businessman also holds key stakes in banks at home and abroad, in addition to a number of investments in media and agricultural companies.
“There will be questions on what this all means,” a senior executive at an unnamed European financial institution told Reuters. “People will be looking at any kind of international holdings of the people who have been arrested, to see what will be the impact.”