South Africa’s Richest Man An Asset Manager

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Four of Africa’s 10 richest men are South Africans, and the wealthiest man in Africa’s largest economy made his fortune not by diamonds or real estate or supermarket chains, but by asset management.

Ventures magazine of Nigeria listed the richest people in Africa, naming four South Africans in the top 10 including asset manager Allan Gray, who is No. 1 in South Africa.

Africa has 55 billionaires – a lot more than the 16 Forbes gives it credit for – with a combined fortune of $143.88 billion, according to Ventures magazine. That’s an average net worth of $2.6 billion per person.

Forbes as well as other global organizations that make it their business to track personal wealth, usually does so by targeting the majority shareholders of blue chip companies listed on the stock exchanges of the world, JewishBusinessNews reports. Using these figures as a basis they are able to compile exactly how much these top players on the global financial scene earn, it said.

Ventures Africa, on the other hand, is keeping silent about its sources of information, saying only that “it uncovered dozens of new billionaires by using ‘on-the-ground knowledge‘ to overcome hurdles that may have hampered other researchers.”

Of the 55 billionaires listed by Ventures magazine, 20 are from Nigeria; nine from South Africa; and eight from Egypt. Algeria, Angola, Zimbabwe and Swaziland each have one billionaire, according to Ventures.

Here are South Africa’s richest:

Allan Gray – $8.5 billion

According to Ventures, Gray, founder of Allan Gray Ltd., runs the largest privately owned asset manager in South Africa, with assets under management at approximately $30 billion.

“According to inside sources at the company, Allan Gray’s global mandate share portfolio has achieved an average annual return of 28 percent since 1974,” Ventures said.

Gray is also the founder of Orbis, an asset manager in Bermuda, which he founded in 1989. Orbis has more than $21 billion under management.

Nicky Oppenheimer – $6.5 billion

As chairman of the world’s largest diamond producer, De Beers, the Oppenheimer family has held control of the company since Ernest Oppenheimer (Nicky’s Grandfather) took the reins in 1927.

In 2011, Oppenheimer sold the family’s 40 percent stake in De Beers to Anglo American for $5.1 billion. Ernest Oppenheimer started a long legacy in mining, having also founded Anglo American in 1917.

Johann Rupert – $6.1 billion

Johann Rupert made his billions through the sale of luxury goods, serving as chairman and CEO of Richemont, a Swiss holding company that controls brands such as Vacheron Constantin, Cartier, Alfred Dunhill, Montblanc and Chloé.

Rupert is also chairman of Remgro, which has South African technology interests in the CIV group of companies, and an investment in SEACOM.

Rupert’s extensive holding in luxury goods places his net worth at $6.1 billion, making him the third richest man in South Africa.

Christoffel Wiese – $3.4 billion

Christoffel Wiese is chairman, executive director and the largest single shareholder of the African continent’s biggest retailer, low-price supermarket chain Shoprite.

Wiese built up Shoprite from a small, eight-store chain in Cape Town to a multi-billion dollar business through acquisitions and successful expansion strategies over 30 years.

He also owns a 44-percent stake in Pepkor, the holding company for Pep discount stores, Ackermans and other retail brands.

Here’s Ventures’ line-up of Africa’s Top 10 Richest people:

1 Aliko Dangote Manufacturing Nigeria $20.2 billion
2 Allan Gray Financial services South Africa $8.5 billion
3 Mike Adenuga Oil, telecoms Nigeria $8 billion
4 Folorunsho Alakija Oil Nigeria $7.3 billion
5 Nicky Oppenheimer Mining, investments South Africa $6.5 billion
6 Johann Rupert Luxury goods and retail South Africa $6.1 billion
7 Nassef Sawiris Construction Egypt $5.2 billion
8 Gilbert Chagoury & Family Construction Nigeria $4.2 billion
9 Nathan Kirsh Real Estate, Distribution Swaziland $3.4 billion
10 Christo Wiese Retail South Africa $3.4 billion