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Tuesday, November 25, 1997 Published at 21:15 GMT


Saudi prince buys into Murdoch's empire
image: [ Prince al Waleed bin Talal ]
Prince al Waleed bin Talal

The hallowed ranks of media moguls have a new entrant among their number. But the new boy, who has bought a $400 million share in Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is hardly a stranger to the world of high finance.

Prince al Waleed bin Talal, a nephew of Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia, has bought 5% of News Corporation, which owns News International, publishers of The Sun and The Times.

The investment adds to his portfolio, estimated as being worth more than $11 billion. In a statement from Riyadh, the Prince said he had also acquired smaller interests in the American Motorola telecommunications company, and the Internet software firm, Netscape.

The Prince has gained a reputation for buying into troubled companies, a tactic which has often paid him handsomely, and has even earned him the nickname King Midas. His purchase of a $115 million slice of Apple last April came as an act of faith in the company which had become used to bad news.

London Docklands complex Canary Wharf and EuroDisney are also part-owned by the 41-year-old Prince, who made his fortune from construction in Saudi Arabia, investing a $15,000 gift from his father just before the Saudi oil boom. He is also a backer of pop star Michael Jackson.

The purchase of the News Corporation shares was revealed in the current edition of Time magazine, in which he said the company was the only truly global news and entertainment company. However last April, he had been reported as having decided against investing in the company, because it was "too political".

The past few weeks have proved a good buying opportunity for Prince Waleed as investors panic sell their holdings, driving markets lower. The Prince is reported to have spent more than a billion dollars on shares on one day alone in October, and, according to Time magazine, he has $3 billion on deposit while he looks for opportunities. While many investors are abandoning East Asia, he's increased his investments.

The prince said Mr Murdoch had thanked him for his investment, describing it as a new strategic alliance.

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