Business: Olayan's Way

A Saudi who buys American

With his short, grizzled hair and dour expression, he looks more like the head of a Soviet trade mission than a Saudi businessman with far-flung interests and resources. He owns no jets or yachts, and is never seen at the playgrounds of the rich. Suliman Olayan, 62, is instead a self-made, thoroughly westernized entrepreneur who, among other activities, has been quietly using a cash surplus of about $300 million to buy big stakes in more than 60 U.S. companies.

Nonetheless, Olayan's name was rarely seen on the financial pages until...

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