Ever wondered where all the money is? This is who has it

patrice motsepe
patrice motsepe

Johann Rupert has dethroned Nicky Oppenheimer as the richest South African on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index for last year.

Rupert (69), of luxury goods holding company Richemont fame, increased his fortune from $6.55 billion (R93.6 billion) in 2018 to $7.3 billion last year.

He is one of only three South Africans to make the Top 500 – the 500 richest people in the world.

According to Bloomberg, the available information about Rupert’s wealth shows that he can buy 138 million barrels of crude oil or almost 6 million ounces of gold.

Bloomberg compiles rankings of the wealth of the world’s billionaires based on public records.

Richemont, with trademarks such as Cartier and Montblanc in its stable, saw its share price increase by 25.59% over the past year.

But even with the substantial growth in Rupert’s wealth, he inched lower on the Top 500 list over the year. Last year, he was the 240th richest person on the planet – he is the 242nd richest now.

Rupert, who donates his entire annual salary to charity, inherited a fortune from his father, Anton, who began the Rembrandt Group in 1940. Anton passed away in 2006.

Rupert started the Richemont group as an extension of Rembrandt, which is now known as Remgro – a Stellenbosch-based investment group with interests in more than 30 companies.

He is an avid golfer and is a close friend of four-time major champion Ernie Els.

The Rupert family – like scores of other rich South Africans – hold shares in wine farms in the Western Cape through Fleur du Cap and L’Ormarins outside Franschhoek, where the family’s collection of antique motor cars is displayed.

Close on Rupert’s heels is Nicky Oppenheimer (74), previously the richest man in South Africa, who is ranked 243rd.

His fortune is currently estimated at $7.33 billion, up from $7.05 billion last year. At the time, he was 216th on the list.

Like Rupert, Oppenheimer also benefited from his father’s estate. Harry Oppenheimer was the chairperson of Anglo American and De Beers from the late 1950s to the early 1980s. Harry passed away in 2000.

Oppenheimer sold his 40% share in De Beers to Anglo American for $5.2 billion in 2012.

He currently owns shares in companies across Africa, Asia, the US and Europe, as well as 186 479 hectares of conservation land in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

The Tswalu Kalahari Reserve in the Northern Cape is also owned by Oppenheimer.

top 10 richest people

Third on the list of South Africa’s richest is the less prominent Natie Kirsh (87), with a fortune of $6.16 billion.

Kirsh, a self-made billionaire, occupies the 320th position on Bloomberg’s index. Last year, he was 263rd on the list with $6.01 billion.

He spent many years in the US and owns a 75% stake in the food and beverage group Jetro Holdings. Kirsch owns property on four continents and bought the Tower 42 skyscraper in London for $443 million in 2011.

Not only did all three of the richest South Africans drop down the list, but their fortunes are also dwarfed by the filthy rich, such as Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, whose net worth is estimated at a staggering $115 billion and who tops the list.

Although only three South Africans made it on to Bloomberg’s Top 500 list, there is no shortage of local billionaires. These include:

  • Patrice Motsepe of African Rainbow Minerals, with a fortune of $2.6 billion. In 2008, he became the first black billionaire to make Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list. Motsepe started the private equity group African Rainbow Capital in 2016, which invests across Africa. He is also president and owner of the Mamelodi Sundowns soccer club.
  • Koos Bekker, with a fortune of $2.4 billion, expanded Naspers from a newspaper and printing company into an internet investment group with investments in e-commerce and pay television.

He resigned as the CEO in 2014 and returned as Naspers’ chairperson in April 2015.

In 2018, Bekker opened a multimillion-pound estate on 400 hectares in England, which houses a hotel and restaurant. The development was based on Bekker’s Babylonstoren development near Franschhoek.

  • Michiel le Roux, co-founder of the highly successful Capitec bank, currently serves on the board of directors after he resigned as chairperson in 2016. Capitec has created enormous wealth for its shareholders. Its share price increased from R220 in 2015 to its current level of R1 355.

According to Bloomberg, Le Roux has about $1.3 billion in assets.

  • Christo Wiese of Pepkor fame lost millions when Steinhoff collapsed. He is also stepping down as chairperson of Shoprite. Forbes estimated his wealth to be $5.6 billion in March 2017 and, according to CNBC Africa, it plummeted to $300 million in less than a year.

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Additional sources: Bloomberg, Forbes, The South African, TimesLive

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