SA billionaires claw back Brexit losses

Cape Town - Although South Africa's wealthiest individuals did not escape the shock wave of the Brexit fallout last week, they are already wealthier again this week.

A BusinessTech analysis of the biggest Brexit losers among SA billionaires found that retail giant Christo Wiese was the "biggest loser" over the period following the Brexit announcement - June 24 to June 27 - with a net worth down $453m (-6.9%) to $6.2bn.

The second biggest SA billionaire loser over that period was Richemont chair Johann Rupert - down $168m (-3.2%) to $5bn - followed by pharmaceutical executive Stephen Saad, who lost $39m (-2.9%) to $1.3bn. Mining magnate Patrice Motsepe was down $31m (-2.3%) at $1.3bn, followed by Naspers' Koos Bekker, who lost $25m (-1.5%) to $1.7bn and diamond mogul Nicky Oppenheimer, who was down $7m (0.1%) at $6.6bn.

Among SA billionaires usually featured on the top international wealth rankings, Allan Gray appears to have weathered the Brexit storm the best. Not only did his net worth of $1.7bn not vary in the aftermath of the Brexit vote announcement, but on Thursday morning it was still remaining constant.

READ: Brexit could hurt SA’s economic growth, warns Kganyago

A Fin24 comparison, using Forbes’ ‘real time’ billionaire data, on how the top SA billionaires were faring early on Thursday morning showed that on the day, the wealth of Oppenheimer (ranked 196th) had increased by $17m (0.3%) to $6.6bn, while the wealth of Wiese (213th) had increased by $165m (2.7%) to $6.3bn. Rupert (289th) clawed back $46m (3.5%) to $5.1bn.

Bekker's wealth increased by R20m to $1.6bn as the media mogul ranked 1196th overall on Forbe's billionaire list. Saad (ranked 1475th) was $25m richer on Thursday morning at $1.3bn, while Motsepe added $23m to his wealth to $1.3bn.

READ: Brexit: Biggest winners and losers

Bloomberg reported last week that, according to its Billionaires Index, the UK’s richest individuals lost $5.5bn on the vote for Brexit as European markets headed for the biggest fall since 2008 and the pound plunged to its lowest level in more than 30 years.

On a global level, the index showed that the world’s 400 richest people lost $127.4bn (3.2%) of their total net worth after the Brexit announcement. Billionaires like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, saw their wealth drop by more than $1bn.

The share price of Richard Branson - who was fiercely anti-Brexit - saw the share price of his Virgin Money Holdings, fall the most since November 2014.

Wiese, who owns UK assets, including fashion retailer New Look and grocer Iceland, told Bloomberg at the time that he had been in favour of the UK remaining as part of the EU. He added, though, that he had no plans to scale back his UK investments or change his strategy.

ALSO READ: Escaping Brexit pushes SA stock buying to 7-yr high

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