Saudi prince buys chunk of Twitter

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has taken a $300 million stake in Twitter through his Kingdom Holding Company investment firm.

With Twitter valued at around $8 billion in total, the investment represents a 3.75 percent stake. The prince says tha the deal is the culmination of several months of negotiations.

"Our investment in Twitter reaffirms our ability in identifying suitable opportunities to invest in promising, high-growth businesses with a global impact," he says.

Prince Alwaleed is no stranger to tech and media investment. He's the second-largest investor in Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, with a seven percent stake, and also has holdings in Citigroup and Apple.

He's also got a strong presence in the Middle Eastern media and entertainment world, with a 29.9 percent holding in the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG). He's also recently announced plans to launch a privately owned news channel, Alarab.

Last year, News Corporation took an initial 9.09 percent stake in  Alwaleed's film, TV and music business, Rotana Media Group, with an option to increase this to 18.18 percent over the course of 18 months.

Saudi Arabia is one of Twitter's fastest-growing markets. According to the UK-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, the number of Twitter users in the country grew by 240 during 2010, with the number of tweets rising by 440 percent - four and a half times higher than the international average.

"We believe that social media will fundamentally change the media industry landscape in the coming years.Twitter will capture and monetize this positive trend," says Ahmed Halawani, executive director of private equity and international investments for Kingdom Holding Company.

In August, investment firm DST Global, which also owns stakes in Zynga and Groupon, took a $400 million stake in Twitter.