South Africa has been criticised for being one of the most unequal countries in terms of income distribution, but a growing number of “new-rich” black South Africans are intruding on the established rich elite. Of South Africa’s richest 10 percent, once almost exclusively white, today nearly 40 percent are black. Tom Jackson takes a look at the ten richest men in the country.
Nicky Oppenheimer and family
Worth an estimated $6.8 billion, the 66-year-old Oppenheimer is the richest man in South Africa and the 139th richest man in the world. He is the chairman of De Beers diamonds and also has a significant interest in gold mining firm Anglo-American. He is also the owner of the largest private game reserve in South Africa.
Johann Rupert & family
Rupert made his money – a fortune worth $5.1 billion – from Richemont, the Swiss luxury group that owns Cartier, Dunhill, Chloe bags and Mont Blanc pens. It has also purchased online fashion portal Net-a-Porter, while Rupert’s holding company Remgro purchased VenFin in 2010. He also owns Rupert & Rothschild and L’Ormarins wine estates, as well as one of South Africa’s most exclusive golf clubs.
Motsepe has built a mining empire after purchasing a handful of low-producing gold mine shafts in 1994 and restoring them to profitability. The third richest man in the country, he is worth approximately $2.7 billion. Aged 50, he has gone on to increase his empire, building African Rainbow Minerals on the back of South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment laws. He also owns a stake in Sanlam.
70-year-old Wiese made his $2.7 billion fortune in consumer retail, as the CEO of Shoprite. He also owns a stake in Pepkor, a discount clothes, shoes and textiles store, while he has also become known for restoring an old South African farm estate into a luxury five-star hotel. His other assets, including wine producer Laurensford Estate and a private game reserve in the Kalahari, help make him the 782nd richest person in the world and the fourth richest in South Africa.
Worth $750 million, 63-year-old Dippenaar is the non-executive chairman of FirstRand bank, having co-founded the bank’s predecessor, Rand Consolidated Investing, in 1977. The First Rand Group has operations in South Africa, five neighbouring countries and India, with more than $80 billion in assets. He has endowed the Laurie Dippenaar scholarship, which pays $44,000 each year towards a South African with leadership potential to take a postgraduate degree.
Saad, worth $640 million, co-founded Aspen Pharmacare in 1997 with $6.3 million. Aspen has gone on to become the largest publicly-traded drug manufacturer on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, with revenues of up to $2 billion each year. Last year it purchased the global rights to the manufacturing of some of GlaxoSmithKline’s smaller brands. He became a millionaire at the age of 29 after selling his share in drug firm Covan Zurich for $3 million. He has a private game reserve at Sabi Sands, adjacent to Kruger National Park.
Ackerman is the founder of supermarket chain Pick ‘n’ Pay, which has 870 stores in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia, is worth an estimated $545 million. Revenues of the publicly traded group reached $7.5 billion last year, though Shoprite has taken some of its market share. He has built a reputation as a consumer champion, fighting supplier cartels in bread, petrol and cigarettes. Though Ackerman no longer has executive responsibilities at Pick ‘n’ Pay, his family retains control of the company. His educational trust pays for the university education of about 60 students each year.
Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
Ferreira is the chair of financial services company RMB Holdings and was another co-founder of the predecessor of FirstRand bank. He is worth an estimated $460 million. In 2010 RMB Holdings, the vehicle through which the founders held their investment in First Rand Group, unbundled its insurance interests into publicly traded Rand Merchant Insurance Holding (RMI). Much of Ferreira’s spare funds are spent on his Tokara vineyard and winemaker, which has become a success with critics and won gold medals every year it has been in production.
Worth $300 million, Mouton is a stockbroker who founded the PSG financial services group in 1995 and serves as executive chairman. The group is active in financial planning and investment banking, and owns 37 per cent of Capitec Bank, its most successful start-up. He is chairman and a major investor in Curro, a chain of independent schools for underprivileged young Africans.
Michiel Le Roux
Offering cheap transactional banking for the emerging South African middle classes, Le Roux has built a $290 million fortune through Capitec Bank, which he founded in 2001 and remains chairman of. It has 474 branches and 3.2 million clients, meaning it is not far behind Nedbank, the smallest of the country’s four universal banks. He was previously the top man at Boland Bank, a small regional bank around Cape Town.