After questioning Forbes’ estimate of his wealth for its annual billionaire list, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has severed ties with the publication’s list through a press release and letter.
This comes after the Saudi investor, who ranked No. 26 on this year’s list, said Forbes utilized a “flawed” valuation method that resulted in his assets being undervalued and “seemed designed to disadvantage Middle Eastern investors and institutions,” reported The Guardian.
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The crux of the argument appears to come as Forbes refuses to utilize share values from Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange listings but it does accept valuations from emerging markets including the Mexican Stock Exchange.
The Forbes estimate has the Prince with a $20 billion net worth, right behind Thomson Reuters Corporation (NYSE:TRI) (TSE:TRI) Chairman David Thomson and his family at $20.3 billion. However, the prince estimates his wealth at $29.6 billion; this greater figure would have him leaping into top 10 spot as one of the richest people in the world. He’d sit behind geriatric French cosmetics heiress, Loreal’s Liliane Bettencourt.
Alaweed’s vast investments come through his Kingdom Holding Company which includes stakes in Paris’ Hotel George V and Twitter–just to name a few.
To say the Prince was livid is an understatement. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal publicly expressed his disdain for Forbes by first sending out a press release via the Kingdom Holding Company.
Language from it included the following:
“We have worked very openly with the Forbes team over the years and have on multiple occasions pointed out problems with their methodology that need correction. However, after several years of our efforts to correct mistakes falling on deaf ears, we have decided that Forbes has no intention of improving the accuracy of their valuation of our holdings and we have made the decision to move on. KHC puts a premium on tracking the true value of our investments and it is contrary to both our practice and nature to assist in the publication of financial information we know to be false and inaccurate.”
The Prince also noted it had seen four inconsistencies from Forbes’s reporting, according to Business Insider, such as “a completely unsupported and biased allegation based on rumors that stock manipulation ‘is the national sport’ in Saudi Arabia because ‘there are no casinos.”
And if that wasn’t enough, the Prince also sent a letter to Forbes’ editor-in-chief, Steve Forbes. He said he will stop providing Forbes magazine with financial information regarding his finances; he also contacted his lawyers regarding the issue.
Here’s the final nail in the coffin in the press release, Alaweed said he plans to continue working with the Forbes’ rival list, the Bloomberg Billionaires List, as he believes they ” use a more accurate method of calculating financial holdings.”
Forbes responded with this story on Tuesday.
So Who Is No. 1?
In case you’re wondering who the No. 1 spot went to, it was Mexico’s telecom billionaire Carlos Slim Helu with a $73 billion net worth, followed by Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Bill Gates who comes in “right behind” at $67 billion.
Other top Americans making the list were Warren Buffett in the fourth spot with his $53.5 billion net worth while Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison took the fifth spot with a $43 billion net worth.
One notable billionaire exiting this year’s list was Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA)’s CEO Mark Pincus thanks to his company’s declining stock value.