Assets Sale Boosts Kingdom Holding Net Profit

The Saudi Arabian company behind plans to build the world’s tallest tower reported a surge in net profits yesterday on the back of asset sales.

Kingdom Holding, run by Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal, said the sale of hotels and part of a major development project in Riyadh helped boost its net profit by 11 % to $26.8 million in the first quarter of the year.

Operating profit rose 4.7 % to 218 million Saudi riyals (Dh211.46 million) in the first quarter, Kingdom said in a statement posted on the website of the Saudi stock exchange.

The company, a diversified investment group with holdings ranging from luxury hotels, media outlets to a $300 million stake in Twitter, attributed the change in net profit to its sale of the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto and the partial sale of the Kingdom Oasis development project in Riyadh, along with assets in its trading portfolio.

Political unrest in the Middle East and an increase in financing costs continued to weigh on Kingdom’s hotel holdings, the company said.

Earnings per share for the three months ending in March came to 0.03 riyal, compared to 0.02 riyal for the same period last year, the statement said. Prince Al Waleed owned 95 % of Kingdom Holding as of late 2011. He holds sizable stakes in companies including Citigroup. News Corp, Apple and Time Warner News Corp.

Last year Prince Al Waleed made a $300 million investment in Twitter Inc., expanding his media empire into social-media sites and giving him a stake in an online forum that was widely used by activists in this year’s Arab uprisings, as Bloomberg stated.

Last week, Kingdom Holding declined to comment on reports by Bloomberg that it was seeking a loan to pay for construction of the Kingdom Tower, which will surpass the Burj Khalifa as the world’s tallest tower if it is built in Jeddah, and the firm was seeking to borrow 2 billion riyals by the second half of the year.

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