If anyone is likely to understand
nepotism, quashing dissent and the ruthless exercise of power, it would
have to be a member of the Saudi royal family. So it looks like Rupert
Murdoch and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal were made for each other.
prince, allegedly the world’s fifth richest man, owns 5.46 per cent of
News Corp – a stake that appears increasingly pivotal in the battle
between Murdoch and rival John Malone, as well as being useful should
pesky smaller shareholders need bashing over the head.
today has coverage of an interview with the Prince which touches on his
loyalty to Rupert, including a promise to act as the Sun King’s white
knight if ever required.
“If we need to raise our stake in News
Corp, it’s something we’re willing to do very swiftly,” said the
prince. “We are always fully mobilised to come to the defence of the
existing management. We’ll spend whatever is needed to keep this
company independent … I am not anti-Malone. I am pro-Murdoch and
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Yes, right – but why? Could it really just be similar beliefs in feudal systems and the divine right of kings?
there’s a hint in His Highness’ comments about why he invests in banks
– 4.3 per cent of Citigroup, for example, worth US$9.9 billion, but he
also has ventures with HSBC and Deutsche Bank.
“I go where my
interests are. There’s no doubt that HSBC helps us a lot in the African
continent and Deutsche Bank will help us a lot in Saudi Arabia and the
Gulf region,” Alwaleed said.
Which leaves one wondering what
interests the nephew of King Abdullah might have in the News Corp
empire? Rupert’s great belief that the invasion of Iraq would be
worthwhile by getting oil prices down to US$20 a barrel? Or just his
general performance as an agent of significant influence with the odd
US president and UK prime minister?
It may be more prosaic. As Bloomberg notes in its introduction to the interview story, Alwaleed has made billions of dollars by investing in underperforming companies. And News Corp has certainly been that.