Prominent Arab philanthropist and businessman Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber has spent the last 33 years building the MBI International Holding Group Inc into an established collection of major international companies. Following a steady stream of investments into existing businesses during 2012, the group saw 2013 as the perfect time to invest in new acquisitions and expand: JJW Hotels & Resorts, established in 1989, has – amongst other major investments for the year – recently taken over control of the Penina Hotel & Golf Resort from the Starwood Group. This latest addition to the 60 hotels already in JJW’s portfolio is set to be added to throughout the course of 2014. At the start of December 2013, MBI International Holding Group Inc also increased their interest in Austrian ski & sports equipment company, Kneissl to 100 percent – making it the sole owner. Established in 1861, this marquee brand is set to bring another dimension to an already diverse portfolio. Sheikh Mohamed is also an active philanthropist, funding scholarship programmes at some of the world’s top educational institutions through his own MBI Al Jaber Foundation.
Whatever the prince touches generally turns to gold, and 2013 was no exception. In 2011, Alwaleed and Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) spent $300m on a stake in Twitter they said was worth more than 3 percent. When Twitter went public last month, the value of the prince’s stake soared by 200 percent to $900m, after a 70 percent rise in the share price.
Things have also been pretty impressive at Kingdom Holding in which the prince has a 95 percent share stake: the one year return on the stock had crossed a remarkable 35 percent by last Sunday. All this means that the prince is once again – for the 10th year running – the world’s richest Arab, with a personal fortune of $31.2bn. This figure has been verified by his private office.
But the real strength of the overall KHC portfolio lies in sector diversity. It has major interests in investment categories ranging from luxury hotels and real estate to media and publishing, entertainment, finance and investment services, social media and technology, consumer and retail, petrochemicals, education, private equities, health care, aviation – even agriculture. KHC is among the world’s largest and most diverse investors, with regional and international holdings in many key industries. It is recognised as one of the largest foreign investors in the United States.
The question in the past few years has been whether anyone else on the rich list could ever topple the prince from pole position. Based on the latest figures, the answer is a resounding no.