Saudi prince made $500 million Russia bet at start of Ukraine war

1 min read
FILE PHOTO: General view shows the headquarters of Gazprom

By Nayera Abdallah and Hadeel Al Sayegh

(Reuters) -Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding Co, the investment firm controlled by billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, quietly invested more than $500 million in three major Russian energy companies between February and March, regulatory filings showed.

By investing in Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil, Kingdom was likely seeking undervalued assets, but its move came as many Western nations imposed sanctions on Russian energy firms and their executives following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have so far tried to maintain what they say is a neutral position on the war in Ukraine, frustrating some Western officials who have sought to isolate Russia over the invasion.

Kingdom in February invested in global depository receipts of Gazprom and Roseneft worth 1.37 billion riyals ($365 million) and 196 million riyals ($52 million) respectively.

The firm also invested 410 million riyals ($109 million) in Lukoil’s U.S. depository receipts between February and March, filings showed on Sunday as part of a lengthy disclosure of recent investments. It gave no reason for any of its specific investments.

Kingdom Holding, which is 16.9% owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund chaired by crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, had not previously revealed the details of its investments.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal rose to international prominence after making a big successful bet on Citigroup Inc in the 1990s and he was an early investor in Apple Inc.

The prince has also made hundreds of millions of dollars by investing in companies such as Uber Technologies Inc to Twitter Inc <TWTR.N.

Alwaleed’s investment style has focused on new opportunities that could be lucrative but carry risk, as well as looking at undervalued assets, a source with knowledge of Kingdom’s business said in June.

Saudi Arabia and Russia lead the OPEC+ group, an alliance formed in 2017 between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied producers.

($1 = 3.7540 riyals)

(Reporting by Nayera Abdallah; Editing by Hugh Lawson and David Holmes)

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