Saudi investors seem to like the strong-arm tactics of its rising millennial leader Mohammed bin Salman.
The Saudi stock market, Tadawul, reversed a more than 2% slide on Sunday to finish slightly positive after a major corruption crackdown orchestrated by Salman. Investors may be looking at the high-profile sweep as an opportunity for Saudi Arabia to unlock untapped economic potential.
Billionaire investor Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and at least 10 other princes, plus current and former ministers, were arrested Saturday in a widespread corruption crackdown, according to numerous media reports.
Several U.S. news outlets reported that the arrests were announced over Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned satellite network whose broadcasts are officially approved.
Prince Alwaleed, a member of the Saudi royal family, was reportedly detained on Saturday. He is a prominent billionaire investor with stakes in companies including Citigroup (C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report , Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report and Twitter (TWTR) - Get Twitter, Inc. Report . The prince controls the investment firm Kingdom Holding, which also has investments in News Corp (NWSA) - Get News Corporation Class A Report , Motorola Solutions (MSI) - Get Motorola Solutions, Inc. (MOS) Report , and Time Warner (TWX) . The American-educated prince also controls several satellite television networks.
The Kingdom Holding website details its "significant" global investments, including financial services companies, hotel management and real estate, petrochemicals, and entertainment interests such as Euro Disney S.C.A, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report . The company also has major investments in consumer and retail, including Saks Fifth Avenue and eBay (EBAY) - Get eBay Inc. Report , as well as agriculture, social media and technology companies.
According to reports in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, the move by Saudi authorities apparently is part of an effort to consolidate power in the hands of the Saudi leadership. The Journal noted that the Saudi government has cracked down recently on dissent and government critics. It is expected that King Salman will abdicate in favor of his son, 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
U.S. media publications reported that the king had announced the creation of an anti-corruption committee headed by the crown prince shortly before the committee ordered the arrests. According to the Wall Street Journal, King Salman ousted Economy Minister Adel Fakieh. He was succeeded by his deputy, Mohammed bin Mazyad al-Tuwajiri, a former banker at HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBC) - Get HSBC Holdings PLC Sponsored ADR Report , the Journal reported.
The Journal report also noted it was not known if the arrests were linked to the new anti-corruption committee, but said that according to the royal order, the anti-corruption drive was necessary "due to the propensity of some people for abuse, putting their personal interest above public interest, and stealing public funds."
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