Move over Nigeria. Last year, South Africa commands 16 spots on FORBES 2015 list of Africa’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 Africa’s richest business leaders live in South Africa, including six of Africa’s 23 billionaires.
Despite South Africa’s dominance, the past twelve months haven’t been kind to the fortunes of the nation’s one percent. The net worths of eight South Africans dropped over the past year–by as much as $1 billion in the case of Africa Rainbow Minerals CEO Patrice Motsepe. His company’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 years–some because their fortunes increased and others because the list’s 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 year’s smaller group.
Two South Africans, in particular, bucked this trend: PSG Group CEO Jannie Moutonand retail tycoon Christoffel Wiese. While it wasn’t quite enough to earn him a spot in the three-comma club, Mouton’s fortune nearly doubled in the past year, thanks to PSG Group’s soaring stock, which is up 135% in the past year. He’s now worth $970 million, up from to $520 million last year. Analysts attribute PSG Group’s success 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 of $6.5 billion, Wiese is more than $1.1 billion richer 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 “Africa’s Ikea”), Steinhoff’s stock is up 37.5% year-over-year. That’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.
Wiese is one of six South African billionaires on this year’s list. South Africa’s richest person (and Africa’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 Africa’s three other billionaires are each worth less than $2 billion—Naspers’ 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 year’s list, some familiar ones have returned after failing to make the cut for one or more years. Pick N Pay’s Raymond Ackerman, Discovery Holdings CEO Adrian Gore, and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa are all back on the list after a year’s hiatus. And three others haven’t been seen on the list since 2011: Steinhoff’s Jooste, Capitec Bank founder and chairmanMichiel Le Roux and Italtile chairman Giovanni Ravazzotti.
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