The Billionaires are back

04 December 2010 - 09:07 By Jana Marais

Super-wealthy South Africans have doubled in number in a year and their portfolios are recovering quickly in value, writes Jana Marais

Things are looking up for SA's super-rich, with the number of billionaires nearly doubling from 16 in 2009 to 31 this year.

And their fortunes are slowly recovering to 2008's pre-crash levels. Following a treacherous 2009, SA's 20 richest men (only one woman, Sharon Wapnick, ranked 95th, made the top 100), enjoyed a 45% rebound in wealth this year, with disclosed shareholdings increasing from R70.8-billion to R102.6-billion.

In 2008, the top 20's disclosed investments on the JSE totalled R134-billion.

The statistics, based on share values at the end of March, were compiled on behalf of Business Times by Who Owns Whom, whose researchers analysed the holdings of all JSE-listed companies.

The study is based on publicly available information and only includes disclosed shareholdings in JSE-listed companies. It is therefore safe to assume the individuals are much richer than it appears here.

Other wealthy people, such as sport stars, entertainers, entrepreneurs and owners of unlisted companies, may be as rich as those on the list, but their wealth could not be determined and they are therefore not included.

Indian steel magnate Laskhmi Mittal, who bought what is now ArcelorMittal SA in 2001, led the pack with a fortune of R21.5-billion (R16.95-billion in 2009). This only reflects the value of his holding in ArcelorMittal SA, not the international ArcelorMittal Group.

In second place, and the richest South African, is Patrice Motsepe, who is worth R19.9-billion (R14.2-billion in 2009) through his stake in African Rainbow Minerals and Sanlam. But this excludes the value of his other investments, including Premier Soccer League club Mamelodi Sundowns.

While his fortunes have been improving, thanks to the recovery in global demand for ARM's products, including platinum, nickel, chrome, manganese and coal, it is still less than his 2008 valuation of R22-billion.

Motsepe, a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur, was ranked 421st on the Forbes list of richest people in the world this year, with an estimated fortune of $2.3-billion.

De Beers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer was ranked third, based on his 2.5% stake in Anglo American, which was founded by his grandfather Ernest in 1917. The recovery in Anglo's share price more than doubled the value of his stake in the company, which was worth R10.7-billion (R5.3-billion in 2009) at the end of March.

However, this excludes the Oppenheimer family's 40% stake in diamond miner De Beers, which formed part of Anglo and was delisted in 2001, and Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, the largest private reserve in SA. Forbes magazine estimates the family's worth at $5-billion, ranking the Oppenheimers the 154th richest in the world.

The top four richest people are unchanged from last year. Following Mittal, Motsepe and Oppenheimer is Shoprite chair Christo Wiese, who made headlines when it came to light that he had nearly £675000 (more than R7-million at current rates) in cash confiscated at Heathrow Airport in April 2009.

Wiese, a lawyer who joined Pep Stores as an executive director in 1967, owns stakes in Shoprite, PSG Group, Invicta Holdings and Tradehold, worth R7.3-billion (R5.05-billion last year).

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Of the 31 billionaires on this year's list, 23 were entrepreneurs. Six were empowerment players, four inherited their wealth, and four made their fortunes through their jobs as executives.

The fortune of Assore's Desmond Sacco, whose father started the business in 1928, is worth less than a quarter of that of Mittal, but five times as much as the last billionaire on the list, Discovery Holdings' Barry Swartzberg. Sacco moved up from eighth place in 2009 to fifth, with wealth of R5.1-billion (R2.9-billion in 2009).

The Ackerman Family Trust, whose stake in Pick n Pay Holdings is worth nearly R4.6-billion (2009: R3.3-billion), dropped one place to sixth, while the Rembrandt Trust, with a R4.5-billion (R3-billion) stake in Remgro, maintained seventh spot.

The Rembrandt Trust is an investment vehicle of Johann Rupert and family, who was ranked 421st on the Forbes list of richest people in the world, tie with Motsepe. Johann Rupert's father Anton started the Rembrandt group in the '40s. The Ruperts control luxury goods group Richemont.

Johann Rupert's R672-million holding in Remgro could be added to the Rembrandt Trust total to get a better picture of the family's wealth.

The rest of the top 10 consists of pharmaceutical boss Stephen Saad, worth R4.3-billion (R2.4-billion) through his holding in Aspen Pharmacare, Steinhoff International's Bruno Steinhoff, worth R3.3-billion (R1.6-billion), and FirstRand founder Laurie Dippenaar, worth R3-billion (R2-billion).

The Elephant Consortium, the empowerment partner of Telkom, lost its place in the top 10 this year, falling from sixth to 24th. The value of the consortium, headed by Andile Ngcaba and Gloria Serobe, plunged 60% to R1.28-billion (R3.2-billion), following the unbundling of Vodacom.

In contrast, the fortunes of the Royal Bafokeng Consortium, with investments in Astrapak, Impala Platinum, Merafe Resources, Metair Investments and Zurich Insurance Company SA, have improved markedly. It is ranked 12th, up from 22nd last year, with a total value of R2.1-billion (R674-million).

Human settlements minister Tokyo Sexwale is worth R1.9-billion (R1.2-billion) through Mvelaphanda, while ANC luminary Cyril Ramaphosa's investments in Assore, Bidvest, Mondi, SABMiller and Standard Bank are worth R1.55-billion (R988-million).

Lazarus Zim is worth R1.4-billion (R538-million) thanks to stakes in Mvelaphanda, Northam Platinum, Pinnacle Point and Sanlam.

The only woman, Wapnick, the daughter of property mogul Alec Wapnick, is worth R228.8-million through her holdings in Octodec Investments and Premium Properties.

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