Billionaire Patrice Motsepe Remains South Africa’s Richest Man?

Patrice Motsepe
Patrice Motsepe

South Africa’s 20 richest people have increased their cumulative wealth by 8 percent over the past year, the Sunday Times’ annual Rich List has uncovered; despite the majority of the list-toppers actually losing wealth over the past year.

The list sees veteran richest-man Patrice Motsepe in first position for the second-year running, boasting a wealth of 20.07 billion South African rand ($2.4 billion).  Despite this apparently hefty figure, Motsepe has actually seen his wealth decline by 13 percent over the space of the last twelve months.

In second-place, runner-up Christo Wiese was the only top-four winner to increase his wealth this year – with the retailer amassing a total wealth of 15.226 billion rand ($1.9 billion) after enjoying a 42 percent overall increase in his JSE listed share holdings in companies Brait, Invicta Holdings, PSG, Shoprite, and Tradehold.

Lakshmi Mittal saw himself ranked in third place this year, with a wealth of only 13 billion rand ($1.6 billion) following his stake in steel-producing mammoth Arcelor taking a 38 percent hit as compared to one year ago.

In only fourth place this year, mining heavyweight Nicky Oppenheimer saw his 2.3 per cent stake in Anglo American suffer a 19 percent loss on last year’s figures, levelling at a sorry 9 billion rand ($1 billion).

These results may, however, be slightly misleading, as they concentrate largely on earnings through JSE-listed investments, and do not include wealth collected through non-listed investments or other sources of wealth (cash, property).

Forbes has recorded entirely different names and figures for South Africa’s richest, with Oppenheimer topping the list with a net personal wealth of $ 6.8 billion following the sale of his 40 percent stake in Anglo American at the end of 2011 – also placing him on the world’s richest rankings.  Forbes also places Wiese above Motsepe, with the former having an estimated net wealth of $ 3.1 billion, while the latter is listed with a net worth of $ 2.7 billion.

In a piece of related research, Who Owns Whom has noted that of the top 10 wealthiest Black South Africans, 50 percent have links with diversified mining group Exxaro, while 30 percent have gathered their wealth through coal producer Optimum Coal.  This seems to fly in the face of Sunday Times suggestions that their top-four saw stunted wealth figures this year due to a general drop in mining-sector share prices caused by a slump in the global demand and market.

Indeed, the Who Owns Whom Black South African rich list sees Motsepe at number one – his wealth having been made through his own diversified mining company African Rainbow Minerals.

Lonmin mine director Cyril Ramaphosa weighs in at number two, with a wealth of 3 billion rand ($365 million); while following up at place number three is Sipho Nkosi, chief executive of Exxaro Resources.  At number four, Zwelibanzi Mntambo is also a non-executive director at Exxaro.

The mining related trend continues at number five, with Chief Executive of Optimum Coal Michael Teke boasting a wealth of 723 million rand ($88 million).

Places seven, eight and nine are also taken by Exxaro colleagues, while at place number ten is Eliphus Monkoe of Optimum Coal, again.

As such the two lists display some sector-specific discrepancies, but it does seem fair to conclude that slowing growth in wealth figures is not confined to those with interests in the mining-sector.  Indeed the Black richest South African list appears to provide a success story of self-made and enthusiastic entrepreneurs who are embracing the potential of an expanding African mining sector.


By; Gabriella Mulligan