RealTime IT News

A Princely Investment in Priceline

Somebody out there likes Priceline.com as an investment, and that somebody is Saudi billionaire Alwaleed Bin Talal, who has put a tidy $100 million into the stock of the name-your-own-price travel company over the past six months.

The prince also bought $500 million in Citigroup stock , $450 million in AOL Time Warner for a total of a cool $1 billion or so.

In a statement issued through his company, Kingdom Holdings., the prince said he sees Priceline as one of the few Internet companies that "survived the turbulence witnessed by the Internet arena." He now owns about 5.4 percent of the company, whose stock price has lagged that of some of the other online travel companies.

"The aim was to lower his average share price and the latest plunge in (Priceline's) price allowed Prince Alwaleed to bring that average down to a single digit," the statement read. "eBay and Amazon , two other companies where we have investment stakes, will also be survivors and will prosper."

Indeed, Priceline's stock was up 24 cents at $5.20 in mid-morning trading today. It has been over $6 several times in the past three months. And that price lag actually makes Priceline a more attractive takeover opportunity, according to some analysts.

"With a stock price that is depressed, there is the potential for other companies to do a deal that could be an accretive deal," Jake Fuller, an analyst at Thomas Weisel Partners, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Alwaleed, a nephew of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd, has a personal fortune estimated at $20 billion, the bulk of which is invested in the United States.