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Prince Alwaleed bin Talal: Opening the doors to the kingdom

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the richest man in the Arab world and the eighth richest on the planet, can barely contain his enthusiasm. For 25 years he has worked to grow a $30,000 handout from his father into a $20 billion company and now, somewhat surprisingly, he wants to float it, or rather 30% of it, on the Saudi stock market.

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He says that he has been considering an IPO for some time. Following the liberalization of the economy and Saudi financial system in recent years, the country’s entry into the World Trade Organization at the end of 2005, the creation of a credible stock market regulator in 2004 and the maturing of the market through its first setback in 2006, he feels the time has finally arrived. He wants to come to market in October or November.

“Saudi Arabia needs more IPOs of credible companies and I believe our company is very credible across its many fields of operation,” he says. While the prince adds his voice to those calling on the government to speed the process of privatization, he points out: “It is important for the private sector to play a role in helping generate good investment opportunities and we would like to set a trend and see other big private companies follow us.”

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