Move over Nigeria. LastÂ year, South Africa commands 16 spots on FORBES 2015 list of Africaâ€™s 50 Richest, more than any other country in the continent. While Nigeria was on top in 2014, the oil-rich nation has fallen to second place with only 10 residents on the list, as oil prices have dropped over the past twelve months. One-third of Africaâ€™s richest business leaders live in South Africa, including six of Africaâ€™s 23 billionaires.
Despite South Africaâ€™s dominance, the past twelve months havenâ€™t been kind to the fortunes of the nationâ€™s one percent. The net worths of eight South Africans dropped over the past yearâ€“by as much as $1 billion in the case of Africa Rainbow Minerals CEOÂ Patrice Motsepe. His companyâ€™s stock fell 59% in the past year, thanks to tumbling commodities prices and a rise in the cost of labor and electricity. Another six South Africans made it back on the list this year after failing to make the cut in previous yearsâ€“someÂ because their fortunes increased and others because the listâ€™sÂ cutoff dropped from $510 million in 2014 to $330 million this year. And while South Africa has five more people on the list this year than in 2014, their combined net worth of $28.45 billion is only $450 million higher than the net worth of last yearâ€™s smaller group.
Two South Africans, in particular, bucked this trend: PSG Group CEO Jannie Moutonand retail tycoon Christoffel Wiese. While it wasnâ€™t quite enough to earn him a spot in the three-comma club, Moutonâ€™s fortune nearly doubled in the past year, thanks to PSG Groupâ€™s soaring stock, which is up 135% in the past year. Heâ€™s now worth $970 million, up from to $520 million last year. Analysts attribute PSG Groupâ€™s successÂ to the strength of its three biggest investments, Capitec bank, PSG Konsult and school chain Curro, in addition to a more focused and streamlined approach in recent years.
With a net worth ofÂ $6.5 billion, Wiese is more than $1.1 billion richerÂ than he was a year ago. Wiese invests widely, but the majority of his wealth is in Steinhoff International
Holdings. Wiese now holds 18% of Steinhoff after the retailer bought Pepkor, another one of his investments, for $5.7 billion in late 2014. Now the second biggest furniture retailer in Europe (dubbed â€śAfricaâ€™s Ikeaâ€ť), Steinhoffâ€™s stock is up 37.5% year-over-year. Thatâ€™s brought Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste back on the list with a net worth of $400 million, after last appearing on the list in 2011.
Â Wiese is one of six South African billionaires on this yearâ€™s list. South Africaâ€™s richest person (and Africaâ€™s second richest after Nigerian Aliko Dangote) is former DeBeers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer. His $6.6 billion fortune is largely made up of the $5.1 billion in cash he got when he sold his 40% stake in diamond company DeBeers to AngoAmerican in 2012. Wiese comes in second, followed by Johann Rupert, whose $6.3 billion fortune comes from his luxury goods firm Compagnie Financiere Richemont, best known for the brands Cartier and Montblanc. South Africaâ€™s three other billionaires are each worth less than $2 billionâ€”Naspersâ€™ Chairman Koos Bekker ($1.7 billion), Aspen Pharmacare founder Stephen Saad ($1.2 billion) and Motsepe ($1.05 billion).
While there are no new South African faces on this yearâ€™s list, some familiar ones have returned after failing to make the cut for one or more years. Pick N Payâ€™s Raymond Ackerman, Discovery Holdings CEO Adrian Gore, and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa are all back on the list after a yearâ€™s hiatus. And three others havenâ€™t been seen on the list since 2011:Â Steinhoffâ€™s Jooste, Capitec Bank founder and chairmanMichiel Le Roux and Italtile chairman Giovanni Ravazzotti.
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