Exclusive: Saudi prince to hold Twitter stake, sees IPO by early 2014
By Mirna Sleiman
DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal says he will not sell any of his shares in microblogging site Twitter Inc when it goes public, and expects the firm's IPO to hit the market later this year or in early 2014.
The prince, a nephew of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and owner of international investment firm Kingdom Holding, invested $300 million in the social media giant in late 2011.
"Clearly the speed they're moving with shows that they would like to IPO sooner than later. I believe it will happen either this year or early next year," Alwaleed told Reuters in a telephone interview on Sunday.
"Twitter is a very strategic investment for us. We believe that it is just beginning to touch the surface. We have invested $300 million in the company. We will be selling zero, nothing, at the IPO." He did not say whether he might buy new shares in the offer.
Alwaleed is a closely watched figure in international markets because of successful investments through Kingdom Holding in companies such as Citigroup and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
Twitter has filed for an initial public offer of shares with U.S. regulators, the company said on Thursday, taking a first step toward what would be Silicon Valley's most anticipated debut since Facebook Inc's listing last year.
"With the 300 million customers they have and half a billion tweets a day, the growth potential is tremendous," Alwaleed said. He said Chief Executive Dick Costolo was "very knowledgeable, very much trustworthy".
The market expects the company's value once listed to be more than $10 billion; Alwaleed sees potential for a much higher valuation. Continued...