Saudi prince invests £190m in Britain’s biggest pension fund

A Saudi prince has taken a £190m stake in Britain’s biggest pensions provider as the Gulf state expands its presence in the City of London.

Saudi royal Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud has revealed that he took a stake of just over 3% in Phoenix Group through his Kingdom Holding Company. This investment makes the Saudi royal family the sixth largest investor in Phoenix.

The move comes days after Kingdom Holding took a 4% stake in insurer and asset manager M&G worth around $267 million.

The Saudi company said the investment is in line with its strategy of investing in global market leaders. Phoenix Group is the UK’s largest long-term savings and pensions company, with 13 million customers and £310 billion in assets under management.

The investment in the City of London comes as Saudi Arabia races to diversify its economy away from oil under the de facto rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Prince Alwaleed, a billionaire businessman and grandson of King Abdulaziz, is the founder and chief executive of Riyadh-based Kingdom Holding.

His group, which had around $13 billion in assets under management at the end of 2018, is believed to have stakes in companies including Citigroup, Uber and the hotel empire Four Seasons. He also owns a stake in Twitter worth more than $190 million.

Prince Alwaleed, often referred to as the Saudi answer to Warren Buffett, has been in the spotlight during Elon Musk’s doomed takeover bid on the social media company.

The Saudi king initially opposed the deal before becoming involved in the takeover a few weeks later, describing the Tesla founder as an “excellent leader”.

In May, Prince Alwaleed agreed to sell a $1.5 billion stake in Kingdom Holding to the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.

The Public Investment Fund bought 625 million shares, giving it a stake of just under 17%. The royal retains a stake of more than 78pc.

In 2018, Prince Alwaleed was detained for nearly three months at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh as part of a massive crackdown on corruption in the kingdom.

He was held alongside at least 10 other princes and dozens of prominent businessmen amid Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s efforts to consolidate power and reform the oil-rich state.

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