Forbes Names Abdulsamad Rabiu Africa’s Newest Billionaire

Forbes Names Abdulsamad Rabiu Africa’s Newest Billionaire

Abdulsamad Rabiu, a Nigerian businessman with a taste for living large, has been named Africa’s latest billionaire in Forbes’ November 2013 issue, according to a report in 360Nobs.com.

A commodities tycoon, Abdulsamad’s fortune grew from $670 million in 2012 to $1.2 billion this year, Forbes Africa said, as reported in MoonOfTheSouth.

Rabiu, 53, is CEO of the BUA Group, a company with businesses similar to those of countryman Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, Forbes reports. These include cement, sugar and flour. The group’s subsidiaries also do business in real estate, steel, port concessions, manufacturing, oil, gas and shipping.

Abdulsamad’s business experiences can best be described as baptism by fire.

His father, Isyaku Rabiu, was a renowned businessman who made a fortune trading during the years following Nigeria’s independence, Forbes reports.

By the mid 1970s, Abdulsamad’s father had become influential and was on the political scene. By 1983, the military coup which led to the arrest of then-President Shehu Shagari also landed Isyaku in jail.

During this time, Abdulsamad was in the U.S. working on a bachelor’s degree. He returned home at age 24 to find his father’s business in a shambles. With little or no business experience, Abdulsamad had to take over and restore his father’s failing empire.

BUA Group now owns a 200-meter-long ship, the BUA Cement 1, designed for heavy loads. It is Nigeria’s first floating terminal.

Rabiu owns property in Britain worth $62 million, and in South Africa, worth $19 million.

Among his properties is a house in Gloucester Square in London worth about $16 million and a penthouse at The One & Only Hotel in Cape Town worth $12.6 million.

“Rabiu’s taste for good living is plain to see; he has bought homes from Eaton Square to Avenue Road, also known as Millionaires’ Row,” Forbes reports. “Rabiu jets around the world on an eight-seater Gulfstream G550 worth $44.9 million, powered by a Rolls-Royce BR710 turbofan engine, as well as an $18-million Legacy 600 aircraft.”

Abdulsamad spoke to Forbes about how he took over the family business: “It was very difficult,” he said. “When we started, our dad was not there. There was this huge vacuum, because of his personality. He grew the business, he did everything, everybody reported to him, and then he wasn’t there anymore.

“So at a very tender age, I was saddled with so many things; I had to make a lot of important decisions, and don’t forget that this happened suddenly, at the time, there were three ships being discharged, rice and sugar ships. The government agencies tried to seize the goods; so we were discharging, they were taking, we were taking back. It was a big, big issue. Those kinds of things were really challenging.

“The biggest challenge was that there were restrictions on confirming letters of credit because of the coup. Then there was the issue of the planes; there were two private jets and we didn’t know what to do with them. We couldn’t fly them. They actually grounded the jets. We were able to get the big one out and we decided we didn’t need it. I just got rid of it. (My father) was in detention, so who was going to be flying a private jet at that time with the major-general Muhammadu Buhari around. They grounded the small plane for two years but it was released after (my father) was released from detention.”

Forbes’ list of Africa’s richest will be published in Forbes Africa in December, MoonOfTheSouth reports. It will be expanded this year from 40 to 50 names to reflect the growing numbers of the super-rich in Africa.

There are 55 billionaires in Africa, U.K.-based Telegraph newspaper reported. Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote, 56, is still Africa’s richest man with a $20 billion fortune.

Forbes Magazine managing editor Chris Bishop said, “Rabiu, unlike most rich people on the continent, had the courage to be transparent in opening up his wealth to scrutiny.”