DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding said on Sunday it will sell its entire stake in Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), publisher of influential pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat and one of the largest media companies in the Middle East.
The investment firm owned by billionaire Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal will sell its 29.9 per cent shareholding in SRMG through an off-market transaction valued at 837.2 million riyals ($223.3 million, Dh819.5 million), it said in a bourse filing.
Besides the London-based Asharq Al Awsat, SRMG owns Saudi newspapers Al Iqtisadiyah and Arab News. Kingdom did not disclose the identity of the buyer.
However, SRMG has traditionally enjoyed close ties to the ruling Al Saud family through a 6.84 per cent stake held in the name of Faisal Ahmad Bin Salman, the fifth son of King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, bourse data shows.
This is the second divestment in the media sector this year for Al Waleed, who sold most of his stake in News Corp in February. Al Waleed also owns a stake in Saudi media conglomerate Rotana Group, which owns the Arab world’s largest record label.
Al Waleed’s interests have expanded to Bahrain, where he founded Alarab TV station. The channel was suspended just hours after its launch on February 1, amid a crackdown by the Bahraini government which said the TV channel had not done enough to combat “extremism and terrorism” Kingdom will sell 23.9 million shares in Saudi Research and Marketing Group at 35 riyals per share in a private off-market transaction, it said in a stock exchange statement. The sale will be completed during trading on Sunday. SRMG last traded on October 28, at 18.80 riyals a share.
The investment firm said proceeds from the sale will be used for other corporate projects and investment opportunities, while the financial impact of the sale will be reflected in fourth-quarter earnings.
Kingdom has minority stakes in some of the world’s top companies, including Citigroup and microblogging site Twitter.