SA expats richer than local moguls

2014-09-22 00:00

SUPER-RICH South African expats are wealthier than the top local billionaires for the first time.

At least three expats are streaking past the Rupert and Oppenheimer families, with their wealth having boomed up to 350% in just 12 months.

But Durban’s Stephen Saad has bucked the expat trend — with his net worth having increased by R5 billion in the past year alone, according to Forbes.

Last week, rocket-man Elon Musk was found to be worth R141 billion, having “more than tripled” his fortune in a single year. This makes him twice as rich as De Beers magnate Nicky Oppenheimer.

Just four years ago, the former Pretoria schoolboy told a U.S. court he had “run out of cash” and, in 2006, he told this reporter he was “one mistake away” from financial ruin.

Meanwhile, U.S. healthcare tycoon Patrick Soon-Shiong, from Port Elizabeth, added about R40 billion to his swollen bank account in the same 12 months, making him the second richest South African-raised person.

Minerals magnate Ivan Glasenberg, now based in Switzerland, has also leapt to the same levels as South Africa’s traditional super-rich, like Johann Rupert.

The magazine stated that Saad, the La Lucia-based CEO of Aspen Pharmacare, had “been on a tear”, boosting his wealth to about R18 billion on the back of a 75% jump in his company’s share price.

Andrew Amoils, head of research at New World Wealth, said the shift in the balance of financial power offshore was “significant” and would likely continue.

“It’s been a very good couple of years for some South African-born CEOs,” he said. “It’s easier to make big money quicker in larger markets, where they also have many more upper class consumers.”

While South Africa’s billionaires grow their fortunes from raw materials and retail goods, the expat barons have found faster fortunes through new technologies.

Last week, Vanity Fair voted Musk as their top power executive of the year, ahead of Google’s Larry Page and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

This follows a 700% rise in the value of Musk’s electric car company, Tesla, and a 340% rise for his retail solar energy company, which he co-owns with another South African, Lyndon Rive.

And he got richer still on Tuesday. Nasa announced that Boeing and Musk’s rocket company, SpaceX had won the two contracts to carry American astronauts to space in future. Musk’s initial contract is worth R28 billion.

Vanity Fair wrote that Musk was the new “patron saint” of Silicon Valley.

It’s easier to make big money quicker in larger markets, where they also have many more upper class consumers.

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