Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is angry at Forbes, y’all. In their annual “rich list,” the magazine estimated the prince’s worth at $20 billion – $10B less than he claims. So how does the blue blood plan to get even? Why by filing a defamation lawsuit against Forbes, Inc., of course.
Prince Alwaleed is the 58-year-old grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founder. And believe it or not, despite having a well-connected family, Alwaleed made most of his money on his own by investing in global brands at a time when their share prices were depressed. Along the way he has built up significant stakes in assets such as Apple, Citigroup, Disney and the Savoy Hotel.
To put it simple, his portfolio is impressive and he likes people to know it.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was ranked as the world’s 26th richest man by the Forbes, which estimated his worth to be around $20bn. Despite being pronounced the richest man in the Arab world, Prince Alwaleed accused Forbes of “intentional biases and inconsistencies” and insisted his real value was nearly $30B.
Forbes responded to the Prince’s public complaints by accusing the prince of “systematically” exaggerating his wealth in order to improve his standing on the rich lists. Forbes said it had sought to establish his wealth based on the underlying value of his company’s investments rather than the price of its Riyadh-traded shares. Why? Because, according to Forbes, the Riyadh investments would inexplicably rise each year right around the time the magazine was collecting the annual “rich list” data. The magazine also said the prince as pressured them to use his own $29.6B figure, “which would return him to the top 10 position he has craved”.
Kerry Dolan, a Forbes journalist, wrote: “The value that the prince puts on his holdings at times feels like an alternate reality.
“For the past few years, former Alwaleed executives have been telling me that the prince, while indeed is one of the richest men in the world, consistently exaggerates his net worth by several billion dollars.”
In March, Prince Alwaleed did an interview with the Sunday Telegraph. During the sit down he mentioned his intention to sue Forbes for defamation. “They are accusing me of market manipulation,” Alwaleed accused. “This is all wrong and a false statement. We will fight it all the way against Forbes.” He also called the Forbes’ list “flawed and inaccurate, displaying bias against Middle East investors and financial institutions.”
Jeffrey Towson, Alwaleed’s former Head of Direct Investments, published a white paper in response to the Forbes article titled “The 8 Big Mistakes in Forbes’ Attack on Prince Alwaleed.” Towson wrote that “Forbes’ explanation of his (Alwaleed’s) behavior, his business and his investment strategy is one of the worst I have ever seen. It is full of mistakes and mis-characterizations.”
Earlier this month (June 2013) Alwaleed launched a defamation claim in London against the publisher of Forbes, its editor, Randall Lane, and two journalists from the magazine. Forbes announced their surprise at the libel action but stands by its story.
The Forbes‘ list ranked Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim as the world’s richest man with $73B, followed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who placed second with $67B.