Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holding the Arab world's wealthiest individual, has launched a scathing attack on Forbes magazine, accusing the US publication of deliberately underestimating his wealth.
On Tuesday the latest Forbes billionaires list said the prince was worth US$20bn - far less than the US$25.9bn estimate by Arabian Business three months ago.
In a statement his office said: “The private office of His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Kingdom Holding Company announce that they have ended their long-standing relationship with the Forbes Billionaires List. The relationship was severed in a letter from His Royal Highness, Chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, to Mr Steve Forbes the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes, requesting that the Prince be removed from the list and informing Forbes that KHC officials would no longer work with the Forbes valuation teams."
The statement cited a number of issues with Forbes, including:
- “A sudden refusal after six years to accept share values as listed by the Tadawul – Saudi Arabia’s fully regulated, 21 century, high-tech stock exchange that services the largest economy in the Middle East and is a member of the World Federation of Exchanges."
- "A completely unsupported and biased allegation based on rumors that stock manipulation “is the national sport” in Saudi Arabia because “there are no casinos.”
- "The application of differing standards of proof for different individuals and organizations resulting in an arbitrary and confusing set of standards that seems demonstrably biased against the Middle East. For example, the valuations of other emerging markets such as the Mexican stock exchange are accepted while those of the Tadawul are not."
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- "Unexplained and purely arbitrary discounts applied to holdings not backed up by brokerage statements when pre-IPO investments such as those in Twitter and China’s 360Buy would not appear on any brokerage statement, and after impressing on Forbes that KHC’s investments are covered by confidentiality agreements."
Shadi Sanbar, CFO of Kingdom Holding, said: “We have worked very openly with the Forbes team over the years and have on multiple occasions pointed out problems with their methodology that need correction.
"However, after several years of our efforts to correct mistakes falling on deaf ears, we have decided that Forbes has no intention of improving the accuracy of their valuation of our holdings and we have made the decision to move on. KHC puts a premium on tracking the true value of our investments and it is contrary to both our practice and nature to assist in the publication of financial information we know to be false and inaccurate.”