How Did The Stock And Currency Crises Affect South African Billionaires?


Rainbow Minerals founder Patrice Motsepe is one of South Africa’s richest people, and in November he was a billionaire, but not any more. His net worth has dropped $200 million since then, Forbes reported.

Stephen Saad, founder of Aspen Pharmacare, was also a billionaire in November but his net worth has fallen $300 million since then.

A weak rand, falling stock prices, drought and China’s economic slowdown have hit South Africa hard.

Two of South Africa’s richest billionaires— luxury goods dealer Johann Rupert and retail investor Christoffel Wiese each saw their fortunes fall more than $1 billion in the past two months, but they are still billionaires, according to Forbes.

When Forbes published its annual list of Africa’s 50 Richest people in November, South Africa had six billionaires. They lost a combined $3.4 billion since then and two have lost billionaire status, according to Forbes.

It’s not just South African billionaires feeling the pain although their losses are impressive. The world’s 400 wealthiest individuals lost $19 billion in 2015, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Newsmax reported. Falling commodities prices and slower-growing China spooked investors around the world.





“After three great years, 2015 stock markets worry-wiggled sideways,” said billionaire Ken Fisher, the founder of Fisher Investments that manages more than $65 billion. “Fears over an oil glut, soft consumer spending and China breaking like a plate and taking commodities with it saw investors take fright.”

Motsepe became Africa’s first black billionaire in 2009 and now he’s worth an estimated $860 million, according to Forbes. His money is tied up in African Rainbow Minerals, which is up 8 percent since mid-November but down 65 percent over the past 12 months; and financial firm Sanlam, down 7.5 percent since November.

Most of Stephen Saad’s wealth is in pharmaceutical firm Aspen Pharmacare, the continent’s largest pharmaceuticals maker. Its stock fell 18 percent since November. Saad still has an estimated $890-million fortune, Forbes reported.

Warren Buffett, a U.S. investor and the third-richest person in the world, lost $11.3 billion when Berkshire Hathaway Inc. had its first negative annual return since 2011, according to Bloomberg. Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, the world’s richest person since May 2013, dropped $3 billion in 2015.

The South African billionaire least affected by the economic downturn didn’t have much wealth tied to the rand or the stock market, according to Forbes. Nicky Oppenheimer, South Africa’s richest person, in 2012 sold his family’s stake in diamond company DeBeers to mining company Anglo American for $5.1 billion. Oppenheimer’s one public investment — a small stake in Anglo American — is  down 42 percent since November. That made his net worth go down $100 million but he still has an estimated $6.5 billion left, Forbes reported.





If you are feeling sorry for the billionaire boo-boos, consider this. The world’s 400 richest people control a combined $3.9 trillion, according to Bloomberg. That’s more than the gross domestic product of all but three countries on Earth — China, Japan and the U.S.

Here’s how other African billionaires have been affected, according to Forbes:

Johann Rupert, chairman of luxury goods firm Compagnie Financiere Richemont, lost $1.2 billion since November, leaving him with an estimated $5.1 billion dollars. The company said sales have been down since the Paris terror attacks on Nov. 13. Stock is down 18 percent since then.

Naspers chairman Koos Bekker lost $300 million in the past two months but he’s still worth an estimated $1.4 billion. A third of his wealth is in Internet and media company Naspers, whose stock dropped 14 percent since November.

Retail billionaire Christo Wiese’s wealth is largely in Steinhoff International Holdings, which moved its listing from the Johannesburg to Frankfurt stock exchange in December. Steinhoff has fallen more than 20 percent since the move. German authorities have been investigating the company’s taxes.


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