Oil tycoons are applauding Saudi Arabia’s recent anti-corruption raid, which has boosted the net worth of the world’s 21 largest oil tycoons by $1.4 billion, according to Bloomberg.
The boost came on the back of increased crude prices as reports of the arrests emerged.
The net worth of Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, on the other hand—one of the arrested princes—sunk to its lowest level in 5.5 years. His biggest asset, the Kingdom Holding Co., took most of the losses.
The Bloomberg index of billionaires dropped Talal’s ranking 11 places to No. 61. In total, his net worth has sunk $2 billion since the anti-corruption team announced his arrest. Now, he owns a $17 billion fortune, valued at less than half of its 2014 peak.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s purge took down Talal in a move that “would be like arresting Warren Buffet or Bill Gates in the United States,” Robert Jordan, former U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom, told CNBC.
Favorable interpretations of what is playing out in Riyadh view the actions as a way to push forward with economic reforms. “The new leadership is committed to modernizing the economy and diversifying the economy and addressing the issue of over-reliance on oil,” Khatija Haque, head of Middle East research at Emirates NBD PJSC, told Bloomberg. “What this signals is that the crown prince is strengthening his position to continue with pushing forward with the reforms that are needed.”
Other analysts say the actions by MBS could undercut one of his own top priorities: Attracting international investment, specifically for the IPO of Saudi Aramco. The arrests without due process “sends a chill down the spine of foreign investors,” Bernard Haykel, a professor at Princeton University, told the New York Times in an interview. And to make matters even more bizarre, a Saudi prince was killed in a helicopter crash near the border with Yemen on Sunday, a seemingly unrelated event with an unknown cause.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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