WSJ: Citi may get cash from Saudi Prince

January 12, 2008 6:25:59 PM PST
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Citigroup shareholder that came to the bank's rescue during the credit crisis of the early 1990s, might do so again now, the Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site Friday, citing people familiar with the matter. The billionaire from Saudi Arabia, along with China Development Bank, is expected to invest about $2 billion in Citigroup Inc., one person said, according to the Journal. The Journal also said, however, there is a chance the deal could fall apart.

The cash-strapped Citigroup, hurt by the mortgage crisis that boiled up last year, has already gotten $7.5 billion from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. On Nov. 26, the ADIA bought a 4.9 percent stake in Citi, becoming its largest shareholder.

Alwaleed may take back that title if he makes another investment in Citi, though the report said his total stake is likely to remain below 5 percent to avoid regulatory scrutiny.

Citigroup spokesman Michael Hanretta declined to comment to the Associated Press about the report.

China Development Bank, which was established in 1994 and is now preparing to become a commercial lender, got a $20 billion injection Dec. 31 from China's sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp.

Asian funds have been buying up the pummeled shares of U.S. banks in need of capital. The deals not only dilute the value of the stock, but also worry some investors who are wary about foreign ownership of U.S. companies.

In recent months, China Investment Corp. said it is investing $5 billion in Morgan Stanley; Singapore's state-run Temasek Holdings invested $4.4 billion in Merrill Lynch; and China's government-controlled Citic Securities Co. and U.S. investment bank Bear Stearns Cos. agreed to invest $1 billion in each other for minority stakes that could be expanded.