Saudis ‘second largest investors’ in Twitter after Musk takeover

Kingdom Holding Company and the private office of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal will maintain their stake in Twitter after Musk took control of the social media company.

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has had a long-running stake in Twitter [File: Amr Nabil/AP Photo]

Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), along with the private office of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, will continue their ownership of Twitter shares valued at $1.89bn after Elon Musk’s takeover of the social media company, making them jointly the second largest investors, according to a statement released by the Saudi prince.

Bin Talal, who shared the statement on his Twitter account on Friday, and made reference to Musk as “Chief Twit”, stated that the deal was in line with the long-term strategy of KHC.

The company was founded by bin Talal, and is 16.9 percent owned by the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund.

As of January 2022, Saudi Arabia, with a population of 34.8 million, had the eighth most Twitter users of any country in the world, with more than 12 million users.

Musk, the richest person in the world, announced on Thursday that he had completed a $44bn acquisition.

“The bird is freed,” Musk tweeted, referencing Twitter’s bird logo in an apparent nod to his desire to see the company have fewer limits on content that can be posted.

However, the CEO of the electric car maker Tesla Inc, and self-described free speech absolutist, has also said he wants to prevent the platform from becoming an echo chamber for hate and division.

Musk fired Twitter Chief Executive Parag Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal and legal affairs and policy chief Vijaya Gadde, according to people familiar with the matter. He had accused them of misleading him and Twitter investors over the number of fake accounts on the platform.

Agrawal and Segal were in Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters when the deal closed and were escorted out, the sources added.

Musk, who also runs rocket company SpaceX, plans to become Twitter’s interim CEO, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The acquisition marks the end of a long-running saga; Musk first offered to buy Twitter in April, before attempting to back out of the deal, and then eventually completing the purchase to take the social media company private.

In contrast to Friday’s statement, bin Talal had initially rejected Musk’s offer in April, saying it did not come close to the “intrinsic value” of Twitter.

At the time, Musk replied by asking what Saudi Arabia’s views on journalistic free speech were.

Musk’s purchase of Twitter was secured with funding from a number of investors, including Larry Ellison, the co-founder of software company Oracle, and Qatar Holding, which is controlled by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies