Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding Co, the investment firm controlled by billionaire Prince Alwa­leed Bin Talal, quietly invested more than $500 million in three major Russian energy companies between February and March, regulatory filings showed.

By investing in Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil, Kingdom was likely seeking undervalued assets, but its move came as many Western nations imposed sanctions on Russian energy firms and their executives following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24.

In February, Kingdom Holding invested in global depository receipts of Gazprom and Roseneft worth 1.37 billion riyals ($365 million) and 196 million riyals ($52 million), respectively.

The firm also invested 410 million riyals ($109 million) in Lukoil’s US depository receipts between February and March, filings showed on Sunday as part of a lengthy disclosure of recent investments. It gave no reason for any of its specific investments.

The company, which is 16.9 per cent owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund chaired by crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, had not previously revealed the details of its investments.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal rose to international prominence after making a big successful bet on Citigroup Inc in the 1990s, and was an early investor in Apple Inc.

The prince has also made hundreds of millions of dollars by investing in companies such as Uber Techn­ologies Inc to Twitter Inc.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have so far tried to maintain what they say is a neutral position on the war in Ukraine, frustrating some Western officials who have sought to isolate Russia over the invasion.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2022

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