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A member of Saudi Arabia’s ruling royal family has become a significant shareholder in Twitter, one of the online tools used by protesters who staged the “Arab Spring” uprisings this year.
Twitter and Facebook have at times been used by activists inside Saudi Arabia to support campaigns there. A Saudi law that came into effect in February – just after the start of the Arab awakening – expanded state control so that online news and commentary websites could be fined or blocked if deemed to be offensive, compromising the nation’s economy or security, or violating Islamic sharia law. Some activists have also been detained over their posts on the web.
CAIRO — The Saudi billionaire whose investment firm is one of the biggest stakeholders in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. said he is looking to expand his alliances with the media giant, in the latest indication that his appetite for growth remains robust even as his company retrenches.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of the Saudi king and who was listed last year by Forbes as the world's 22nd richest person, met with News Corp.'s chief executive Rupert Murdoch on Jan. 14 in a meeting that "touched upon future potential alliances with News Corp.," according to a statement released by his Kingdom Holding Co. late Saturday.
Media reports have indicated that News Corp, parent to Fox News and Dow Jones & Co., among others, may be thinking of buying a stake in Alwaleed's Rotana Media Group, which includes a number of satellite channels that air in the Middle East.
Neither company has commented publicly on the possible deal, but the talks offer an indication yet that such an agreement may yet be in the offing.
The Saudi royal also met last week with Citigroup's chief executive Vikram Pandit, according to a statement by Kingdom Holding e-mailed Sunday.
Alwaleed told Pandit that the "honeymoon is now over," a clear indication that one of the banking giant's largest investors wants solid results this year, according to a transcript of an interview that aired Thursday on Fox Business News.
"I told him that clearly the market gave you two years leeway, but I think now it's time to deliver," Alwaleed said. "And 2010 is really for him is year to make it or break it, and he has to deliver. "
Alwaleed raised his stake in Citigroup to 5 percent in late 2008 from less than 4 percent in a move that came as the company was facing a possible collapse. Kingdom Holding says Alwaleed is the single largest shareholder in Citigroup.