One of Rupert Murdoch’s key business allies, who was arrested in last week’s corruption crackdown in Saudi Arabia, has quietly sold off his $1.5 billion stake in 21st Century Fox.
- For the first three quarters of 2017, the Prince, a huge backer of Murdoch, owned 39,737,915 shares
- That went down to zero in the fourth quarter
- The shares’ new owners remain unknown at this stage
The business relationship between Mr Murdoch and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is now under new scrutiny, with Mr Murdoch’s control over his family-controlled business empire looking more uncertain.
“This is very big news,” Murdoch watcher and shareholder activist Stephen Mayne said after the company confirmed Prince Alwaleed had offloaded his shareholdings in Fox and News Corporation.
“He’s been the number one backer of Murdoch family control of the public companies for the last 20 years.”
One of the world’s richest men, the Prince is one of dozens of royal family members, officials and business leaders arrested in Saudi Arabia in recent days.
With his bank accounts and other assets likely to have been frozen by Saudi authorities, his detention had raised questions about who had control over his almost 40 million Fox shares.
It now appears he sold those shares with little fanfare.
It is unclear when the shares were sold.
But a Bloomberg report on the company’s shareholders shows Prince Alwaleed’s stake fell to zero during the current financial quarter.