This week, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud of Saudi Arabia — the largest shareholder of News Corp outside the Murdoch family — endorsed Rupert Murdoch’s son James to succeed the elder Murdoch when he retires. Alwaleed, King Abdullah’s nephew, is Saudi Arabia’s richest person and the world’s 22nd wealthiest (Murdoch is number 132). He holds large stakes in many American companies, including Citi. The prince met with Murdoch last week to discuss a “future potential alliance with News Corp,” and he told Charlie Rose Wednesday about his respect for the Murdoch dynasty:
ALWALEED: I met with Mr. Rupert Murdoch and Mr. James Murdoch. We are always in tough. I’m second biggest shareholder there. And no doubt that News Corp is moving on all the fronts. You’ve seen how FOX rating is skyrocketing. … James is now managing Europe and Asia. … I’ll be the first one to nominate him to be the successor of Mr. Rupert Murdoch, god forbid if something happens to him. … I have full confidence in [James], full trust in him, and he’s capable. He’s really Rupert Murdoch in the making, and he’s almost there now.
Alwaleed came to most Americans’ attention following the 9/11 terror attacks when New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani turned down a $10 million donation from Alwaleed over a controversial comment he had made about U.S. foreign policy. As Media Matters noted, several Fox News personalities criticized Alwaleed at the time. Fox News host Sean Hannity called Alwaleed’s comment an “egregious, outrageous, unfair offense.” That was before Alwaleed purchased a seven percent stake in its parent company.