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Saudi Prince Alwaleed Eyes Investments In Cyprus - Report

BEIRUT (Zawya Dow Jones)--Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, owner and chairman of Kingdom Holding Co., has discussed investment opportunities in Cyprus with Cypriot president Dimitris Christofias, Abha-based Al Watan daily reports Saturday.
Christofias offered several proposals for potential investment in his country's hotel sector during a recent meeting with bin Talal, who was accompanied by a delegation from Kingdom Holding and Alwaleed bin Talal Foundation, the paper reports.
Kingdom Holding couldn't be immediately reached.

Positive prospects for investment by Saudi prince

By Charles Charalambous Published on August 4, 2010
THE PROSPECTS of one of the world’s twenty richest men investing in Cyprus seem positive, after it was confirmed that Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal Al-Saud met President Demetris Christofias, Archbishop Chrysostomos and Paphos Mayor Savvas Vergas during a four-day stay on the island.

The Archbishop himself confirmed to Politis newspaper that he had a meeting lasting over an hour with Al-Waleed on Saturday, which took place on the Saudi prince’s 90-metre luxury yacht, anchored off the coast of Latchi (near Polis Chrysochous).

Although Chrysostomos declined to confirm what was discussed, he was accompanied by a cleric carrying a briefcase, and it is probably safe to assume that the Church’s investments and assets cropped up during the conversation.

Al-Waleed is rumoured to favour tourism as a potential area for investment. In November last year, Forbes magazine estimated Al-Waleed’s net worth at US$13.3 billion, making him the 22nd richest man in the world. Just 18 months previously, he was ranked 19th richest with an estimated net worth of US$21.0 billion, before his shareholdings took a battering as the world economic crisis hit.

The Archbishop was first spotted on Saturday having lunch at the Anassa luxury five-star spa hotel – located near Latchi – with its owner, Thanos Michaelides. At around 3.00pm, he and his assistant boarded the 10-metre boat being used to ferry people to and from Al-Waleed’s superyacht in the bay. A local business owner said a special jetty had to be built on the beach to accommodate the boat.

When asked directly what was discussed, Chrysostomos told reporters not to make the same mistake as with the Qataris, referring to the huge media interest and speculation surrounding the government’s eventual agreement with state-owned Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company over a luxury hotel development project in Nicosia.

At one point, Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis felt obliged to publicly damp down the speculation and political point-scoring, saying that this might have the effect of killing any deal in the pipeline.

According to Politis, Al-Waleed already made a contribution to local tourism by hiring ten new luxury taxis and a bus from Latchi/Polis-based Nissos Taxi for the duration of their four-day stay at the Anassa hotel, where 30-35 rooms and suites were reportedly used.

The taxi fleet first ferried the Prince with his large entourage from Paphos airport last Thursday, after arriving in his luxury Boeing 747 jet. By then, his superyacht was already moored off Latchi. Al-Waleed is said to have favoured travelling in the luxury bus with his immediate entourage, and reportedly asked the driver to detour through Paphos town centre on Thursday, at one point asking to be set down so that he could walk along part of the sea-front towards the castle.

After taking the Prince and his group to the Anassa hotel, the fleet of taxis plus the bus were kept on 24-hour standby, with drivers working eight-hour shifts.

On Friday, the group made an excursion into Paphos for ice cream, followed that evening by a meeting with Vergas, who said Al-Waleed expressed an interest in investing in the area.

At 2.30pm on Sunday, Al-Waleed – accompanied by his wife and five close associates – flew by private helicopter from his yacht to Christofias’ holiday home in Kellaki in Limassol district, accompanied by a police helicopter.

The Prince and his group left at around 4pm for the airport, leaving behind them fevered speculation that the whole visit was to designed to explore potential investment opportunities in Cyprus.

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