Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, an investor in some of the world's top companies, on Monday unveiled a $300 million stake purchase in fast-growing microblogging site Twitter, gaining another foothold in the global media industry.
Alwaleed, a nephew of the Saudi king with a personal net worth estimated by Forbes magazine in March to be just below $20 billion, already owns a 7-percent stake in News Corp and has unveiled plans to start a cable news channel.
The Twitter stake, bought jointly by Alwaleed and his Kingdom Holding Co investment firm, resulted from "months of negotiations," Kingdom said in a statement.
Applying an $8 billion valuation figure for Twitter used by some analysts, the investment by Alwaleed and Kingdom amounts to a 3.75-percent stake.
Twitter, which allows people to send 140-character text messages, or Tweets, to groups of so-called followers, is one of the Web's most popular social networking services, along with Facebook and Zynga.
The company said in September that was in no hurry to undertake a hotly anticipated initial public offering. It raised $400 million in venture capital financing this summer.
It now counts more than 100 million active users who log onto the service at least once a month.
Facebook, the world's largest social network has more than 750 million active users.
Internet search giant Google Inc recently launched a social networking service dubbed Google+ which some observers say could lure users away from Twitter.
The use of Twitter played a role in the spread of information in the Arab Spring, a series of revolts that have shaken the Middle East and North Africa this year.
Saudi Arabia headed off some rumblings of dissent from its own population by unveiling a $130 billion social spending package.
Saudis are increasingly turning to satellite television, online news providers and social networking to stay abreast of world events. The world's No. 1 oil exporter announced a series of stricter regulations for journalists earlier this year.
Alwaleed, who has a sizeable stake in Citigroup, has spoken out in favour of broader political participation, fair elections and effective job creation across the Arab world.
Kingdom owns a near-30 percent stake in Saudi Research and Marketing Group, which runs a range of media titles.
"Our investment in Twitter reaffirms our ability in identifying suitable opportunities to invest in promising, high-growth businesses with a global impact," Alwaleed said in the statement.
Shares in Saudi companies are due to start trading at 0800 GMT. Kingdom stock closed on Sunday at 7.85 riyals.