Prince Alwaleed sells A380 to fund expansion plans in Saudi, Mideast



New York: Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, the world's 15th richest person, sold his Airbus A380 jet plane in the past four months, according to Shadi Sanbar, chief financial officer of the Kingdom Holdings.

The 57-year-old, who bought the plane in 2007, used the proceeds from the sale to expand his investments in Saudi Arabia and the greater Middle East, Sanbar said in an e-mail. He would not disclose the buyer or the sale price, citing 'strict confidentiality' agreements.

Alwaleed "has been talking about investing in real growth companies, with genuine employment opportunities," said Saud Masud, chief executive of New York-based investment firm SM Advisory Group in a phone interview yesterday. "He needs cash for that type of growth."

The chairman of Riyadh-based Kingdom Holding has a net worth of $29 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He bought the plane, which is manufactured by Toulouse, France-based Airbus, in 2007. The list price of an A380 was $319 million at the time. He never took possession of the plane.

Alwaleed's fortune has surged $8.5 billion since April 2012 as Kingdom shares have almost doubled in value. The diversified investment company, which controls stakes in Citigroup, News Corporation and the George V hotel in Paris, accounts for more than two-thirds of Alwaleed's net worth, according to the Bloomberg ranking.

First customer
Airbus announced Alwaleed's purchase at the 2007 Dubai Air Show. He allowed the firm to name him as the first private jet customer of an A380, which is 239-feet long and can seat as many as 853 passengers when used for commercial flights, according to Airbus' website.

David Velupillai, a spokesman for Airbus Corporate Jets in Blagnac, France, said the company has not communicated any more details about Alwaleed's purchase since the signing, and confirmed that the building of the jet is complete, with the exception of its cabin.

Most corporate-jet buyers customise the cabin interior to their taste, according to Howard Guy, chief operating officer of Design Q, a Redditch, UK-based design consultancy that focuses on the luxury transport sector.

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