The Saudi prince bet $500 million on Russia when the Ukraine war started

The Saudi prince bet $500 million on Russia when the Ukraine war started

Kingdom Holding, one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent investors, invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Russian energy companies shortly before and after the invasion of Ukraine this year, the group revealed in a filing on Sunday.

Mostly owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Kingdom made the investments even as Western leaders sought to increase pressure on Moscow and threatened sanctions against Russia, which they began imposing in late February.

The roughly $500 million in investments included $364 million in Gazprom in February, with the rest going to Rosneft and Lukoil that month and in March. President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Prince Alwaleed, a Saudi billionaire, was arrested in 2017 at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh with other tycoons and members of the royal family in what authorities called a corruption sweep.

Critics said it was a power play by the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to consolidate his position against an influential old guard. The state said it recovered $100 billion in misappropriated funds.

Prince Alwaleed, whose grandfather founded Saudi Arabia, was released after reaching a deal with the government, although he has never disclosed the details. Other tycoons were released after transferring funds or partially ceding control of their companies to the government.

The government’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, said it acquired a 16.8% stake in Kingdom Holding in May, months after the investments. But a major Saudi company would be unlikely to make major investments in Russia without the government’s blessing given Western pressure on Moscow.

Other investments disclosed on Sunday included a $220 million investment in Phoenix Group, a UK pensions and savings company, and $221 million in investment manager M&G. It also made investments in Uber, Lyft, Alibaba and BlackRock TCP Capital. Kingdom Holding said they were part of a three-year investment strategy totaling $3.4 billion. The company has investments in the Four Season hotel chain and also has a stake in Twitter.

Saudi Arabia has fostered close ties with Russia, with both countries cooperating in OPEC+ on oil production. Its ties with Washington have been strained since President Joe Biden took office, after campaigning to make Saudi Arabia a pariah over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents. The CIA said Prince Mohammed was in charge of the operation to “capture or kill” Khashoggi, which the prince has denied.

Since then, Biden has had to backtrack on his promise and visited the country in July, meeting with Prince Mohammed as he pushed for higher oil production to offset prices and inflation.


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About the Author: Chaz Cutler

My name is Chasity. I love to follow the stock market and financial news!