Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Rich people problems

A wealthy Saudi prince is angry because he doesn't think Forbes ranked him high enough in their annual list of world's richest people:
(Prince) Alwaleed (Bin Talal), Alwaleed, angry that Forbes values him at a paltry $20 billion, has formally severed all connections to Forbes' annual list of "World's Billionaires," now in its 27th year.
 Alwaweed, a Saudi billionaire and chairman of investment services company Kingdom Holding, didn't even crack the top 20 on Forbes' list. He's listed as the 26th richest person, sandwiched between David Thomson, chairman of Canadian media company Thomson Reuters (TRI), and activist investor Carl Icahn of New York.

Alwaleed, whose investments include Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), News Corp. (NWSA, Fortune 500) and Twitter, said he prefers Bloomberg Billionaires, a list started last year, which values him at $28 billion and ranks him as the world's 16th richest person.
Kingdom Holdings issued a press release slamming the Forbes list as "false and inaccurate" for refusing to include the stock valuation of the multi-faceted Riyadh-based conglomerate, which is publicly traded on Saudi Arabia's stock exchange, the Tadawul. KHC, as the company is known, accused Forbes of being "biased against the Middle East" for refusing to take the Tadawul more seriously. 
Um... seriously?

Forget the world's richest 1%; Alaweed is a member of the world's richest 0.000001%. His net worth - even if it is a mere $20 billion - is greater than the GDP of entire nations (quite a few of them, in fact, if these lists at Wikipedia are to be believed). His investments make more money in a single day than a vast swath of the world's population will make in a lifetime.

And he's complaining about his place on a list.

Forbes writer Kerry A. Dolan has defended their ranking of Alaweed, detailing their skepticism of the valuation of Kingdom Holdings stock and describing Alaweed as a man pathologically obsessed with his ranking among the world's richest people:
The prince first came on FORBES’ wealth-hunting radar in 1988, a year after our first Billionaires issue came out. The source: the prince himself, who contacted a FORBES reporter to let him know just how successful his Kingdom Establishment for Trading & Contracting company was–and to make clear that he belonged on the new list.

That outreach proved to be the first in what is now a quarter-century of intermittent lobbying, cajoling and threatening when it comes to his net worth listing. Of the 1,426 billionaires on our list, not one–not even the vainglorious Donald Trump–goes to greater measure to try to affect his or her ranking. In 2006 when FORBES estimated that the prince was actually worth $7 billion less than he said he was, he called me at home the day after the list was released, sounding nearly in tears. “What do you want?” he pleaded, offering up his private banker in Switzerland. “Tell me what you need.”
Yeah, when you're being unflatteringly compared to Donald Trump, that's not a good thing.

Alaweed is no stranger to controversy. Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, his $10 million relief donation to New York City was rejected by mayor Rudy Giuliani because he suggested in a statement that United States policies towards the Palestinians were partly to blame for the attack.  In 2010, some Fox News personalities suggested that he might be funding Islamic extremists, apparently unaware of the fact that Alaweed is a part owner of their network. He has also been accused of drugging and raping a model in his yacht off the Spanish coast.

But this tiff with Forbes is less controversy and more buffoonery, albeit on a megalomaniac scale.

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