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African Billionaire Fortunes Rise

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Buoyed by rising stock markets and commodity prices, Africa’s billionaires are collectively wealthier than a year ago. The 23 billionaires that Forbes found in Africa – up from 21 billionaires last year – are worth a combined $75.4 billion, compared to $70 billion in January 2017.

The richest African, for the seventh year in a row, is Nigerian cement and commodities tycoon Aliko Dangote, with a net worth that Forbes pegs at $12.2 billion. That’s up $100 million from a year ago. Dangote is looking beyond cement – his most valuable asset – and has been investing in a fertilizer production company and a large oil refinery. Dangote Fertilizer is expected to start operations in the second quarter this year.

Number two on the list is diamond mining heir Nicky Oppenheimer of South Africa, with a net worth of $7.7 billion, up $700 million from last year. Oppenheimer is one of eight South Africans on the list, making it the African country with the most billionaires.

Last year, South Africa and Egypt tied with six billionaires each. Boosting the South African ranks this year: newcomer Michiel le Roux, the founder and former chairman of Johannesburg-listed Capitec Bank Holdings, whose stock has climbed more than 50% in the past year, making Le Roux a new billionaire worth $1.2 billion. South African mining tycoon Desmond Sacco, chairman of listed Assore Group, returns to the list following a stock price surge of some 60% in the past 12 months. Sacco last appeared as a billionaire on the Africa’s Richest list in 2012 with a $1.4 billion fortune. (He also appeared on the 2014 Forbes list of the World’s Billionaires, worth $1.3 billion.)

One South African list member wouldn’t have made the cut a month ago. In December 2017, the share price of retailer Steinhoff International plunged after the company divulged accounting irregularities. That pushed the net worth of Steinhoff’s then-chairman Christoffel Wiese below $1 billion on December 7. (Wiese resigned as chairman in December.) In early January the company said it would restate its financial results as far back as 2015 and the share price rebounded enough to put Wiese back in billionaire territory, at least for the moment. Forbes calculated his net worth on January 5 (the day we measured all the billionaires fortunes) at $1.1 billion, down substantially from $5.5 billion a year ago. (As of Jan. 10, Steinhoff stock dropped again, knocking Wiese’s net worth below $1 billion.)

Zimbabwe gets its first billionaire this year: telecom magnate Strive Masiyiwa, who chairs the Econet Group. Shares of Zimbabwe-listed mobile phone network Econet Wireless Zimbabwe have surged in value over the past year; Masiyiwa owns more than half of that company. He also has a majority stake in fiber optic firm Liquid Telecom, which raised $700 million in a bond offering in July 2017. Forbes estimates Masiyiwa’s net worth at $1.7 billion.

Just two of the 23 list members are women, unchanged from last year. Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s longtime former president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, is worth an estimated $2.7 billion this year, down from $3.2 billion a year ago. Her net worth dropped in part due to a lower value for Banco BIC, an Angolan bank; its book value plunged in 2016 amid a tough year for the oil producing country.  The other woman is Nigeria’s Folorunsho Alakija, whose estimated $1.6 billion fortune lies in oil exploration firm Famfa Oil, which is partnered with Chevron and Petrobras on a lucrative offshore oil field.

Mohammed Dewji of Tanzania is the youngest on the list, at age 42. He inherited a textile and edible oils group from his father and has expanded its operations. Forbes puts his net worth at $1.5 billion. The oldest list member is Onsi Sawiris of Egypt, age 88; he started Orascom Construction in 1950. It was nationalized by the government of Abdel Nasser and Sawiris created another construction firm from scratch. Two of his three sons are also billionaires, including Nassef Sawiris, who at $6.8 billion is Egypt’s richest man. That’s an increase from $5.3 billion a year ago thanks to upticks in the share price of several of his holdings: shoemaker Adidas, cement giant LaFargeHolcim, and fertilizer maker OCI.

One person dropped off since last year’s list: Anas Sefrioui of Morocco. The share price of his homebuilder, Douja Promotion Groupe Addoha, fell about 30% in the past year, pushing his net worth down to $950 million.

Fortunes rose since last year for 13 of the 23 list members, fell for four people and stayed the same for three people. The list members hail from a total of eight countries: eight from South Africa, six from Egypt, three from Nigeria, two from Morocco and one list member each from Algeria, Angola, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

METHODOLOGY

Our list tracks the wealth of African billionaires who reside in Africa or have their primary businesses there, thus excluding Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, who is a U.K. citizen, and billionaire London resident Mohamed Al-Fayed, an Egyptian citizen. (Strive Masiyiwa, a citizen of Zimbabwe and a London resident, appears on the list due to his expansive telecom holdings in Africa.) We calculated net worths using stock prices and currency exchange rates from the close of business on Friday, January 5, 2018. To value privately-held businesses, we couple estimates of revenues or profits with prevailing price-to-sales or price-to-earnings ratios for similar public companies. 

We have purposely excluded dispersed family fortunes such as the Chandaria family of Kenya and the Madhvanis of Uganda, because the wealth is believed to be held by dozens of family members. We do include wealth belonging to a member’s immediate relatives if the wealth can be traced to one living individual; in that case, you’ll see “& family” on our list as an indication.

– Written by Kerry A. Dolan

Africa’s Billionaires List

 

1. Aliko Dangote

Aliko Dangote (Photo by Kelechi Amadi-Obi)

Net worth: $12.2 billion

Origin of wealth: Cement, sugar, flour

Age: 60

Country: Nigeria

Dangote, Africa’s richest man, founded and chairs Dangote Cement, the continent’s largest cement producer. He owns nearly 88% of publicly-traded Dangote Cement through a holding company. Dangote Cement produces 44 million metric tons annually and plans to increase its output 33% by 2020. Dangote also owns stakes in publicly-traded salt, sugar and flour manufacturing companies.

Did You Know?

  • Dangote’s grandfather was a successful trader of rice and oats in Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city.
  • Dangote told Forbes that when he was young, he bought sweets, gave them to others to sell, and he kept the profits.

Nigeria is one of the best-kept secrets. A lot of foreigners are not investing because they’re waiting for the right time. There is no right time.

 

2. Nicky Oppenheimer

Nicky Oppenheimer

Net worth: $7.7 billion

Origin of wealth: Diamonds

Age: 72

Country: South Africa

Oppenheimer, heir to his family’s fortune sold his 40% stake in diamond firm DeBeers to mining group Anglo American for $5.1 billion in cash in 2012. He was the third generation of his family to run De Beers, and took the company private in 2001. For 85 years until 2012, the Oppenheimer family had occupied a controlling spot in the world’s diamond trade. Nicky Oppenheimer now owns an estimated 1% stake in Anglo American, which his grandfather founded in 1917.

Did You Know?

  • A passionate conservationist, Oppenheimer owns Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, the largest private game reserve in South Africa.
  • Oppenheimer is a sports fan and plays squash, golf and cricket. Notepads in his office read: “Things I must do before cricket”.

 

3. Johann Rupert

Johann Rupert (Photo by Getty Images)

Net worth: $7.2 billion

Origin of wealth: Luxury goods

Age: 67

Country: South Africa

Johann Rupert is chairman of Swiss luxury goods firm Compagnie Financiere Richemont. The company is best known for the brands Cartier and Montblanc. It was formed in 1998 through a spinoff of assets owned by Rembrandt Group Limited (now Remgro Limited), which his father Anton formed in the 1940s. He owns a 7% stake in diversified investment firm Remgro, which he chairs, as well as 25% of Reinet, an investment holding co. based in Luxembourg. In recent years, Rupert has been a vocal opponent of plans to allow fracking in the Karoo, a region of South Africa where he owns land.

Did You Know?

  • He also owns part of the Saracens English rugby team and Anthonij Rupert Wines, named after his deceased brother.
  • Rupert says his biggest regret was not buying half of Gucci when he had the opportunity to do so for just $175 million.

 

4. Nassef Sawiris

Nassef Sawiris (Photo by Getty Images)

Net worth: $6.8 billion

Origin of wealth: Construction, chemicals

Age: 56

Country: Egypt

Nassef Sawiris is a scion of Egypt’s wealthiest family. His father Onsi and brother Naguib are also billionaires. Sawiris split Orascom Construction Industries into two entities in 2015: OCI and Orascom Construction. He runs OCI, one of the world’s largest nitrogen fertilizer producers, with plants in Texas and Iowa; it trades on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange. Orascom Construction, an engineering and building firm, trades on the Cairo exchange and Nasdaq Dubai. His holdings include stakes in cement giant Lafarge Holcim and Adidas.

Did You Know?

  • A University of Chicago graduate, he donated $20 million to the school in 2015 to fund scholarships in his father’s name for Egyptian students.
  • Bill Gates is also a shareholder in OCI, with a stake of about 7%.

 

5. Mike Adenuga

Mike Adenuga (Photo supplied)

Net worth: $5.3 billion

Origin of wealth: Telecom, oil

Age: 64

Country: Nigeria

Adenuga, Nigeria’s second richest man, built his fortune in telecom and oil production. His mobile phone network, Globacom, is the second largest operator in Nigeria, with 37 million subscribers. His oil exploration outfit, Conoil Producing, operates six oil blocks in the Niger Delta. Adenuga got an MBA at Pace University in New York, supporting himself as a student by working as a taxi driver. He made his first million at age 26 selling lace and distributing soft drinks.

 

6. Issad Rebrab

Issad Rebrab (Photo by Getty Images)

Net worth: $4 billion

Origin of wealth: Food

Age: 74

Country: Algeria

Issad Rebrab is the founder and CEO of Cevital, Algeria’s biggest privately-held company. Cevital owns one of the largest sugar refineries in the world, with the capacity to produce two million tons a year. Cevital has been buying European companies in distress, such as Groupe Brandt, a French maker of home appliances, and an Italian steel mill. Rebrab has plans to build a steel mill in Brazil to produce train tracks and improve transportation logistics for sugar, corn and soy flour exports. His five children work at Cevital.

Did You Know?

  • Rebrab is the son of militants who fought for Algeria’s independence from France.
  • Cevital helped finance a biopic on Algerian resistance hero Larbi Ben M’hidi, who was executed by the French in 1957.

We [Algerians] have great potential; we can make up for lost time.

 

6. Naguib Sawiris

Naguib Sawiris (Photo by Getty Images)

Net worth: $4 billion

Origin of wealth: Telecom

Age: 63

Country: Egypt

Naguib Sawiris is a scion of Egypt’s wealthiest family. His father Onsi and brother Nassef are also billionaires. He built a fortune in telecom, but in 2017 stepped down as CEO of Orascom Telecom Media & Technology (OTMT). In 2011, Sawiris sold Orascom Telecom to Russian telecom firm VimpelCom in a multi-billion-dollar stock and cash transaction. Sawiris acquired a nearly 20% stake in Australia-listed gold mining firm Evolution Mining. He also owns nearly 20% of Toronto-listed Endeavour Mining, which operates gold mines in West Africa.

Did You Know?

  • Sawiris helped found The Free Egyptians, a liberal political party, at the onset of Egypt’s uprisings in 2011.
  • In 2015, he offered to buy a Greek or Italian island to house Syrian refugees, but Greece and Italy turned him down.

I want to feel good about having done something good. Provide me with the island and I will do the rest.

 

8. Koos Bekker

Koos Bekker (Photo by Getty Images)

Net worth: $2.8 billion

Origin of wealth: Media, investments

Age: 65

Country: South Africa

Bekker is revered as an astute executive who transformed South African newspaper publisher Naspers into an ecommerce investor and cable TV powerhouse. He led Naspers to invest in Chinese Internet and media firm Tencent in 2001 – by far the most profitable of the bets he made on companies elsewhere. Bekker, who retired as the CEO of Naspers in March 2014, returned as chairman in April 2015. During his tenure as CEO, which began in 1997, Bekker oversaw a rise in the market capitalization of Naspers from about $600 million to $45 billion. During that time, he drew no salary, bonus, or benefits and was compensated via stock option grants that vested over time.

Did You Know?

  • His Babylonstoren estate, nearly 600 acres in South Africa’s Western Cape region, features architecture dating back to 1690, a farm, orchard and vineyard and more.
  • Over the summer of 2015 he sold more than 70% of his Naspers shares.

 

9. Isabel dos Santos      

Isabel Dos Santos (Photo by Gallo Images)

Net worth: $2.7 billion

Origin of wealth: Investments

Age: 44

Country: Angola

Isabel dos Santos is the oldest daughter of Angola’s longtime former president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who stepped down in fall 2017. Her father made her head of Sonangol, Angola’s state oil firm, in June 2016, but Angola’s new president removed her from that role in November 2017. Forbes research found that while president, Isabel’s father transferred to her stakes in several Angolan companies, including banks and a telecom firm. She purchased shares of Portuguese companies, including telecom and cable TV firm Nos SGPS. A spokesperson for Isabel told Forbes that she “is an independent businesswoman and a private investor representing solely her own interests.”

Did You Know?

  • Isabel dos Santos is nicknamed “the princess” in Angola.
  • Dos Santos’ mother, Tatiana Kukanova, met her father while he was a student in Azerbaijan. The couple later divorced.

 

9. Mohamed Mansour

Mohamed Mansour
(Photo by Getty Images)

Net worth: $2.7 billion

Origin of wealth: Diversified

Age: 69

Country: Egypt

Mohamed Mansour oversees family conglomerate Mansour Group, which was founded by his father Loutfy. Mansour established General Motors dealerships in Egypt, becoming one of GM’s biggest distributors in the world. Mansour Group also has exclusive distribution rights for Caterpillar equipment. He was Minister of Transportation under the Hosni Mubarak regime. His brothers, Yasseen and Youssef, are also billionaires.

Did You Know?

  • Mansour’s father lost his fortune, when Egypt’s then president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, expropriated his cotton trading company in 1964.
  • Mansour worked as a busboy in a pizza parlor while at North Carolina State University to pay for college.

Empowering best in class management teams is the only way to transform a local player into a diversified conglomerate with multinational exposure.

 

11. Patrice Motsepe

Patrice Motsepe (Photo by Brett Eloff)

Net worth: $2.4 billion

Origin of wealth: Mining

Age: 55

Country: South Africa

Motsepe, the founder and chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, became a billionaire in 2008 – the first black African on the Forbes list. In 2016, he launched a new private equity firm, African Rainbow Capital, focused on investing in Africa. Motsepe also has a stake in Sanlam, a listed financial services firm, and is the president and owner of the Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club. He became the first black partner at law firm Bowman Gilfillan in Johannesburg, and then started a contracting business doing mine scut work. In 1994, he bought low-producing gold mineshafts and later turned them profitable.

Did You Know?

  • In 2013, the mining magnate was the first African to sign Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, promising to give at least half his fortune to charity.
  • He benefited from South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) laws, mandating that companies be at least 26% black-owned to get a government mining license.

 

12. Aziz Akhannouch

Aziz Akhannouch (Photo supplied)

Net worth: $2.2 billion

Origin of wealth: Petroleum, diversified

Age: 57

Country: Morocco

Aziz Akhannouch is the majority owner of Akwa Group, a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate founded by his father. It has interests in petroleum, gas and chemicals through publicly-traded Afriquia Gaz and Maghreb Oxygene. Akhannouch is Morocco’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Did You Know?

  • His wife Salwa Idrissi runs her own company, which has franchises for Gap, Zara and Galeries Lafayette in Morocco.

 

13. Yasseen Mansour

Yasseen Mansour (Photo supplied)

Net worth: $1.9 billion

Origin of wealth: Diversified

Age: 56

Country: Egypt

Yasseen Mansour is a shareholder in Mansour Group, which was founded by his father Loutfy. Mansour Group is the exclusive distributor of GM vehicles and Caterpillar equipment in Egypt. His brothers Mohamed and Youssef are also billionaires. He’s chairman of Palm Hills Developments, one of Egypt’s biggest real estate developers.

Did You Know?

  • Private equity firm Ripplewood has a stake in Palm Hills Developments.
  • Mansour Group is the sole franchisee of McDonald’s in Egypt.

 

14. Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa (Photo by Getty Images)

Net worth: $1.7 billion

Origin of wealth: Telecom

Age: 56

Country: Zimbabwe

Masiyiwa overcame protracted government opposition to launch mobile phone network Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in his country of birth in 1998. He owns just over 50% of the publicly-traded Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, which is one part of his larger Econet Group. Masiyiwa also owns just over half of private company Liquid Telecom, which provides fiber optic and satellite services to telecom firms across Africa. His other assets include stakes in mobile phone networks in Burundi and Lesotho, and investments in fintech and power distribution firms in Africa. He and his wife Tsitsi founded the Higherlife Foundation, which supports orphaned and poor children in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi and Lesotho.

Did You Know?

  • After studying at university in Britain, Masiyiwa worked at ZPTC, Zimbabwe’s phone company.
  • He left ZPTC to start an engineering services firm, then sold it and founded Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, but had to battle the government in court for years.

 

15. Folorunsho Alakija

Folorunsho Alakija (Photo by Ty Bello)

Net worth: $1.6 billion

Origin of wealth: Oil

Age: 67

Country: Nigeria

Folorunsho Alakija is vice chair of Famfa Oil, a Nigerian oil exploration company with a stake in Agbami oil field, a prolific offshore asset. Famfa Oil’s partners include Chevron and Petrobras. Alakija’s first company was a fashion label whose customers included the wife of former Nigerian president Ibrahim Babangida. The Nigerian government awarded Alakija’s company an oil prospecting license in 1993, which was later converted to an oil mining lease. The Agbami field has been operating since 2008; Famfa Oil says it will likely operate through 2024.

 

15. Othman Benjelloun

Othman Benjelloun (Photo supplied)

Net worth: $1.6 billion

Origin of wealth: Banking, insurance

Age: 85

Country: Morocco

Othman Benjelloun is CEO of BMCE Bank of Africa, which has a presence in more than 20 African countries. His father was a shareholder in RMA Watanya, a Moroccan insurance company; Benjelloun built it into a leading insurer. Through his holding company FinanceCom, he has a stake in the Moroccan arm of French telecom firm Orange.

Did You Know?

  • He co-owns Ranch Adarouch, one of the biggest cattle breeders in Africa.
  • Benjelloun and his wife received the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award for building schools in rural Morocco in 2016.

 

17. Mohammed Dewji

Mohammed Dewji

Net worth: $1.5 billion

Origin of wealth: Diversified

Age: 42

Country: Tanzania

Mohammed Dewji is the CEO of METL, a Tanzanian conglomerate founded by his father in the 1970s. METL is active in textile manufacturing, flour milling, beverages and edible oils in eastern, southern and central Africa. METL operates in at least six African countries and has ambitions to expand to several more. Dewji, Tanzania’s only billionaire, signed the Giving Pledge in 2016, promising to donate at least half his fortune to philanthropic causes.

Did You Know?

  • Dewji retired from Tanzania’s parliament in early 2015 after completing two terms.
  • Dewji, who is known as Mo (short for Mohammed), launched Mo Cola several years ago to compete with Coca Cola.

 

18. Youssef Mansour

Youssef Mansour (Photo supplied)

Net worth: $1.4 billion

Origin of wealth: Diversified

Age: 72

Country: Egypt

Youssef Mansour is chairman of Mansour Group, which was founded by his father Loutfy. The Group has exclusive GM and Caterpillar dealerships in Egypt. He oversees the consumer goods division, which includes supermarket chain Metro, and sole distribution rights for L’Oreal in Egypt. Younger brothers Mohamed and Yasseen are also billionaires.

Did You Know?

  • Former Egypt President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized his father’s original cotton trading business.
  • Mansour is a founding member of the American Egyptian Chamber of Commerce.

 

19. Michiel le Roux

Michiel le Roux (Photo by Jay Caboz)

Net worth: $1.2 billion

Origin of wealth: Banking

Age: 68

Country: South Africa

Michiel le Roux of South Africa founded Capitec Bank in 2001 and owns about an 11% stake. The bank, which trades on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, targets South Africa’s emerging middle class. He served as chairman of the board of Capitec from 2007 to 2016 and has continued on as a board member. Le Roux previously ran Boland Bank, a small regional bank in Cape Town’s hinterland.

Did You Know?

  • The bank has more than 800 branches and over 13,000 employees.
  • Fellow South African billionaire Jannie Mouton’s PSG Group owns a 30% stake in Capitec Bank.

 

19. Stephen Saad

Stephen Saad (Photo by Getty Images)

Net worth: $1.2 billion

Origin of wealth: Pharmaceuticals

Age: 53

Country: South Africa

Stephen Saad founded South Africa’s largest pharmaceuticals maker, Aspen Pharmacare, in 1997. Traded on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Aspen Pharmacare markets generic medicines in 150 countries. Saad is the chief executive and head of Aspen’s board. He became a millionaire at age 29 when he sold his share in the drug business Covan Zurich for $3 million. In October 2016, Saad won the Entrepreneur of the Year award at the All Africa Business Leaders Awards gala.

Did You Know?

  • In 2012, Saad became chairman of The Sharks, a Durban rugby team.
  • He spends his free time at Exeter, his private game reserve at Sabi Sands, which is adjacent to Kruger National Park, the largest national park in South Africa.

 

21. Desmond Sacco

Desmond Sacco

Net worth: $1.1 billion

Origin of wealth: Mining

Age: 75

Country: South Africa

Desmond Sacco chairs South African mining firm Assore Group, which mines for iron ore, manganese and other ores. Sacco’s father Guido founded the company in 1950, and Desmond joined the group in 1968. Desmond Sacco owns about 32% of Johannesburg-listed Assore Group. Assore has a 50% stake in mining group Assmang, which it shares with billionaire Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Minerals group.

Did You Know?

  • Sacco studied geology before joining Assore Group.
  • Sacco collects minerals and published “The Desmond Sacco Collection” highlighting his four decades of collecting.

 

21. Onsi Sawiris

Onsi Sawiris

Net worth: $1.1 billion

Origin of wealth: Construction, telecom

Age: 88

Country: Egypt

Onsi Sawiris is the patriarch of Egypt’s wealthiest family. His sons Nassef and Naguib are also billionaires. He founded Orascom Construction in 1950. Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized it 10 years later. Onsi rebuilt Orascom from scratch and transferred control to his son Nassef in 1995. He also owned shares in Orascom Telecom, which Naguib ran before selling it to VimpelCom in 2011.

Did You Know?

  • Onsi’s third son Samih is a near billionaire; he’s chairman of Orascom Development, which develops resorts.
  • A scholarship at the University of Chicago bears his name, thanks to a $20 million donation by his son Nassef, a graduate of the school.

 

21. Christoffel Wiese

Christoff Wiese (Photo by Jay Caboz)

Net worth: $1.1 billion

Origin of wealth: Retail

Age: 76

Country: South Africa

Christoffel Wiese built his Pepkor retail empire by offering bargain prices in South Africa, and expanded into other African countries. In 2015, South Africa-based furniture retailer Steinhoff International spent $5.7 billion in cash and stock to acquire Pepkor. Wiese stepped down as chairman of Steinhoff International in December 2017 after the company disclosed accounting irregularities. He also owns 18% of publicly-traded Shoprite Holdings, which has supermarkets and furniture stores in 15 countries across Africa. His other assets include stakes in private equity firm Brait, industrial products company Invicta Holdings and mining-sector investor Pallinghurst.

Did You Know?

  • Wiese’s father owned a sheep and cattle farm and a car dealership.
  • Wiese studied law at Stellenbosch University but switched gears to go into business.

The business has basically been built on one slogan: Low prices you can trust. Just very, very low everyday prices.

 

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Arts

Artist, Icon, Billionaire: How Jay-Z Created His $1 Billion Fortune

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Nine years ago, two unlikely lunch partners sat down at the Hollywood Diner in Omaha, Nebraska. One, Warren Buffett, was a regular there. The other, Jay-Z, was not. The billionaire and the rapper ordered strawberry malts and chatted amiably, continuing the conversation back at Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway offices.

Buffett, then 80, walked away impressed with the artist 40 years his junior: “Jay is teaching in a lot bigger classroom than I’ll ever teach in. For a young person growing up, he’s the guy to learn from.” This moment, which was originally captured in our 2010 Forbes 400 package, made it clear that Jay-Z already had a blueprint for his own ten-figure fortune. “Hip-hop from the beginning has always been aspirational,” he said.

READ MORE | Inside Nipsey Hussle’s Blueprint To Become A Real Estate Mogul

Less than a decade later, it’s clear that Jay-Z has accumulated a fortune that conservatively totals $1 billion, making him one of only a handful of entertainers to become a billionaire—and the first hip-hop artist to do so. Jay-Z’s steadily growing kingdom is expansive, encompassing liquor, art, real estate (homes in Los Angeles, the Hamptons, Tribeca) and stakes in companies like Uber.

His journey is all the more impressive given its start: Brooklyn’s notorious Marcy housing projects. He was a drug dealer before becoming a musician, starting his own label, Roc-A-Fella Records, to release his 1996 debut, Reasonable Doubt. Since then he’s amassed 14 No. 1 albums, 22 Grammy awards and over $500 million in pretax earnings in a decade.

Forbescover-jay-z-buffett

Crucially, he realized that he should build his own brands rather than promote someone else’s: the clothing line Rocawear, started in 1999 (soldfor $204 million to Iconix in 2007); D’Ussé, a cognac he co-owns with Bacardi; and Tidal, a music-streaming service.

Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean, the superproducer behind some of Jay-Z’s biggest hits (“On To The Next One,” Beyoncé’s “Upgrade U”), looks at Jay-Z as something others can model: “It’s bigger than hip-hop … it’s the blueprint for our culture. A guy that looks like us, sounds like us, loves us, made it to something that we always felt that was above us.”

“If he’s a billionaire now, imagine what he’s about to be,” Swizz Beatz says. “Because he’s only just starting.”

READ MORE | The Forbes Five: Hip-Hop’s Wealthiest Artists 2018

What’s Jay-Z Worth?

To calculate his net worth, we looked at the artist’s stakes in companies like Armand de Brignac champagne—applying our customary discount to private firms—then added up his income, subtracting a healthy amount to account for a superstar lifestyle. We checked our numbers with a roster of outside experts to ensure these estimates were fair and conservative. Turns out, Jay-Z really is a business, man.

Jay-z-rule

Armand de Brignac

$310 million

Armand-de-Brignac-bottles

Jay-Z has used his music to shill the $300 gold bottles of the “Ace of Spades” champagne since launching the brand with the 2006 video “Show Me What You Got.” More recently, his verse on Meek Mill’s “What’s Free” put a half-billion-dollar value on the wine, which seems like a bit too bubbly a number.

Jay-z-rule

Cash & investments

$220 million

A vast investing portfolio includes a stake in Uber worth an estimated $70 million. He reportedly purchased his piece for $2 million back in 2013—and then wired founder Travis Kalanick another $5 million in an attempt to increase his holdings, but was rebuffed.

Jay-z-rule

D’Ussé

$100 million

Jay-Z’s cognac, a joint venture with beverage giant Bacardi, moves almost 200,000 cases and has grown nearly 80% annually. “Jay-Z resonates with consumers who are attracted to the ultra-premium lifestyle,” says Eric Schmidt, Beverage Marketing Corp.’s Director of Alcohol Research.

Tidal

$100 million

In 2015, Jay-Z submitted a bid to purchase the Scandinavian streaming service’s parent company for just shy of $60 million. He relaunched Tidal later that year with a roster of celebrity investors including his wife, Beyoncé, and other music luminaries, from Kanye West to Calvin Harris.

Jay-z-rule

Roc Nation

$75 million

This wide-ranging entertainment company started over a decade ago as part of a joint venture with concert giant Live Nation. Roc Nation represents some of the top stars in the entertainment through its sports agency (Kevin Durant, Todd Gurley) as well as its record label and artist-management arms (Rihanna, J. Cole).

Jay-z-rule

Music catalog

$75 million

Jay-z-albums

Before the beginning of his stint as Def Jam’s chief in 2004, Jay-Z negotiatedthe eventual return of his master recordings from the aforementioned label that helped launch his career; in a separate deal with EMI, he clawed back his publishing rights. Wise move: his hits now clock close to 1 billion streams annually.

Jay-z-rule

Art collection

$70 million

In the song “Picasso Baby,” Jay-Z boasted about a “Basquiat in my kitchen corner.” He probably wasn’t kidding. For over a decade, he’s been scooping up masterpieces like Basquiat’s “Mecca,” purchased in 2013 for a reported $4.5 million. “He’s rapped about it all in detail,” says Fab 5 Freddy, a contemporary and friend of the late painter. “Jay-Z helped educate millions of hip-hop fans mentioning Jean-Michel.”

Jay-z-rule

Real estate

$50 million

This is the incredible $88 million mansion Jay Z and Beyonce purchased in August 2017, the home has 8 bed, 11 bath and is 30,000 square feet
CJT/ MEGA/ NEWSCOM

After welcoming twins in 2017, Jay-Z and Beyoncé bought a pair of homes to match: a $26 million East Hampton mansion and a $88 million Bel Air estate. Jay-Z also owns a Tribeca penthouse, snagged for $6.85 million in 2004.

Zack O’Malley Greenburg;Forbes Staff

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Billionaires

MacKenzie Bezos Will Donate Half Her Fortune To Charity

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MacKenzie Bezos is the latest billionaire to sign the Giving Pledge and commit at least half of her $35 billion fortune to charity. Bezos joins Mark ZuckerbergRichard Branson, and Robert F. Smith on the list of donors to Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s initiative.

In a letter published by Giving Pledge, Bezos writes of having “a disproportionate amount of money to share” and credits “an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand” for her wealth.

READ MORE | Jeff Bezos And Elon Musk Want To Get To The Moon—They Just Disagree On How To Get There

Bezos’ signature, alongside hedge fund billionaires David Harding and Paul Tudor JonesBrian Armstrong chief executive of cryptocurrency company Coinbase, and WhatsApp’s co-founder Brian Acton, brings the total signatories to more than 200 people.

The Giving Pledge began in August 2010 when 40 of America’s wealthiest individuals made a commitment to give more than half of their wealth away. The scheme is described as an “open invitation for billionaires … to publicly dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy”.

Although MacKenzie Bezos doesn’t list any particular causes she writes, “My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won’t wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”

Who is MacKenzie Bezos?

MacKenzie Bezos will become the world’s third richest woman later this year after announcing the terms of the divorce settlement with her husband and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Although amicable, the settlement is biggest of all time with MacKenzie receiving 4% of Amazon stock, worth more than $35 billion on April 4 2019.

With Amazon’s current market cap of $897.66 billion, MacKenzie’s 4% stake is now worth $35.9 billion.

READ MORE | Jeff Bezos To Give MacKenzie 25% Of His Amazon Stake, Worth Tens Of Billions, In Divorce

MacKenzie is also a successful novelist, described by author Toni Morrison as “one of the best students I’ve ever had.” She met Jeff Bezos while both were working at hedge fund D.E. Shaw in New York and they married in 1993. MacKenzie Bezos confirmed her divorce on twitter, stating she was, “Grateful to have finished the process of dissolving my marriage with Jeff.”

L’Oreal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers is the world’s richest woman with a net worth of $53.6 billion, while Alice Walton of Walmart fame is the only other woman ahead of MacKenzie with a $47.1 billion fortune.

-David Dawkins;Forbes Staff

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Billionaires

How mogul Abdulsamad Rabiu has become a billionaire again

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Nigeria’s business mogul and third richest man, who cemented his return to Forbes’ African Billionaires List this year since dropping off it in 2015, says he owes his $1.6 billion net worth to being a disruptor – and to being stubborn.


The inside of Abdulsamad Rabiu’s office, on the corner of Churchgate Street, in Victoria Island’s commercial district in the heart of Lagos that is notorious for chaotic, rambunctious traffic, is marked by a serious lack of clutter.

The expansive room is tastefully decorated in cream and black hues. Rabiu’s desk is organized in a manner that seems as though everything is exactly where it should be; completely spotless and devoid of any distractions that will hinder the 58-year-old founder of BUA Group from managing his vast empire, a conglomerate spread across southern and northern Nigeria.

A firm believer in strategy, the cement and sugar tycoon boosted his fortunes by a whopping $650 million this year when he merged Kalambaina Cement, a subsidiary company of his BUA Cement, with the publicly traded Cement Company of Northern Nigeria (CCNN), where he was a controlling shareholder.

That calculated move has made him the third richest man in Africa’s largest economy, with a staggering net worth of $1.6 billion, according to the latest Forbes African Billionaires List, which he dropped out of.

“Nigerian cement mogul Abdulsamad Rabiu, who runs and owns the BUA Group, returns to the list for the first time since 2015. He merged his Kalambaina Cement firm into publicly-traded Cement Company of Northern Nigeria, which he controlled, in late 2018. Rabiu now owns 97% of the list entity,” Forbes reported.

READ MORE | Businesses Of The Future: 20 New Wealth Creators On The African Continent

He says his fall from the coveted list was due to the devaluation of the Naira, which meant that the exchange rate went from N190 against the  dollar, to N300.

“That was the main reason I dropped off the rich list. Also, most of our other assets were not being considered because once you are not listed, it becomes more challenging to get an accurate valuation.

“Our assets, in the cement industry alone, are worth more than $2 billion, but that is because Obu Cement [Plant], which is our biggest cement plant, is not listed,” Rabiu says.

 His return to the billionaire boys’ club is due to five years of strategic expansion and a much more stable Nigerian economy. However, it is about more than just numbers for Rabiu.

“It is a good feeling to be on the rich list, the most important thing is not about how much money you make, but the impact you make. Touching people’s lives is more important because money is a number. What you need in terms of your day-to-day is not that much.”

One of the secret ingredients to his tremendous success is that Rabiu is a firm believer in delegation.

His phone purrs only occasionally, but this is also because his plants run with clockwork precision in an environment that is chaotic at the best of times.

He has a calm and soft-spoken demeanour, a trait which is, quite frankly, unconventional for someone who has fought his way through hell and high water in business.

“I am quiet but I am very stubborn. If I want something I go for it and if I don’t want it, no matter how much I’m pushed, I don’t do it. If somebody is stubborn, sometimes it’s seen as arrogant but I don’t think I am an arrogant person,” Rabiu says.

 It is also immediately clear that he is not a man who rushes into things. He would rather move methodically, with clarity and precision, a skill he picked up in the early days learning the ropes from his industrialist father. Case in point is how he built his empire brick-by-brick from the early days as an importer.

“In 1988, I started my own business and founded BUA International Ltd. At the time, the in-thing was importation of rice, sugar, fertilizer, agriculture etc. So the challenge was that, if there was scarcity of any product, everybody would now go and import the same thing. This pushes the price up and everybody will say the price of fertilizer has doubled, so everyone would now go and import fertilizer and within a short time, the product would now come down to half price and everyone would lose money,” Rabiu says.

He decided to break the mould and instead adopted a value-added approach. He focused on bringing in raw materials to process it locally.

“We started with oil in Kano. We were processing crude palm oil to refine it. We were also getting peanuts from Kano and then crushing and processing, and that was a good business at the time because it was adding value and people were not used to adding value to anything at all. They were importing everything.”

In 2000, BUA acquired Nigeria Oil Mills, which was a peanut processing company in Kano. In 2005, he set up the BUA Flour Mills factory in Lagos. Rabiu saw very early on that he had to be distinctive in a sea of importers who simply followed the trend.

It is this measured philosophy of value that has allowed BUA Group to innovate and expand capacity to about 2 million tons of cement per annum with its new merger. Rabiu says with the consolidation, BUA Group has a market valuation of about $800 million. A far cry from the company’s humble beginnings.

Returning to Kano as a newly-minted graduate with a degree in economics from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, in the United States, a lot had changed while Rabiu was away.

 The country was being run by a military leader and there were severe shortages in foreign exchange which made the business of importation extremely difficult. Following his new ethos of adding value to the production line, Rabiu set his eyes on the sugar business by establishing the 2,000 metric ton (MT) per day capacity plant in Lagos which is the second largest refinery in West Africa, after the Dangote Sugar Refinery.

But the BUA story isn’t without its share of trials and tribulations. The fight began in the early years of business, when the Nigerian government introduced the backward integration policy in the sugar business.

“This is where you were allowed to import raw sugar and process into refined sugar and you must have a sugar refinery facility. So, if you have the facility for a sugar refinery, you were able to import sugar and pay a duty of 5% to 10%, while everybody else was importing refined sugar and paying 50% duty,” Rabiu says.

 At the time, it was only the Dangote Group that had the refinery facility, so Rabiu decided the lack of saturation made sugar a viable business to go into.

The government’s backward integration policy is a well-known competitive strategy which allows an organization to control more of its supply chain in order to bring down the costs.

 It means that a company is allowed to purchase or internally produce segments of its supply chain. This is done to ensure the supply, along with securing bargaining, leverage on vendors.

To take advantage of backward integration, a company needed to have its sugar refinery at the ports in order to import raw materials in bulk, which made having a terminal at the port a prerequisite.

“At that time, everything was owned by [the] Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), so you had to go and lease land from them, together with the storage. This was a huge capital investment, and to make matters worse, there was no land at the time because everything was taken.”

 Luckily, Rabiu was able to find a company that had a facility that was not being utilized.

“We paid a lot of money to that company, got all the designs, bought all the equipment, we were about to start the company, then the lease was revoked and we could not go there. This was during the [Olusegun] Obasanjo regime. Most of our money had been spent on getting the land and equipment and they revoked the lease and gave it to somebody else. It took us a year and almost $50 million in cost before we were able to start all over again,” he says.

Incidentally, that site was given to Rabiu by his father. Once they took off, the business worked out so well that they were able to recoup their money within a very short period of time. The sugar venture was a cash cow.

The company was able to reap huge margins due to the difference in duties for imports of raw sugar, and, yet again, Rabiu found validation in his strategic approach to business.

 Even in those early days, his penchant for success was apparent. The sugar refinery is still operating at capacity and Rabiu is in the process of commissioning another refinery at Port Harcourt in Nigeria. They say the apple does not fall far from the tree, and this is true for Rabiu.

His father, Isyaku Rabiu, was a renowned businessman, who also made his fortune in trade decades after Nigeria’s independence.

His wealth grew significantly until the 1983 coup which toppled the government and led to the arrests of President Shehu Shagari and his close allies, including Isyaku, leaving his business empire in a precarious state.

But where his father lost his footing in trade, Rabiu was destined to find his in cement. Opportunity came knocking in 2007 when the price of cement was so high that the Nigerian government decided to introduce yet another backward integration in the cement industry.

 The idea was simple. You could only import cement into Nigeria, if you had a cement factory. At the time, there were only two multinational organizations in the country with the capacity to build their own cement plant.

Local companies like the Dangote Group and Flour Mills of Nigeria were the only two other companies that had signed contracts to build cement factories in Nigeria.

“Nobody else was allowed. So President [Umaru Musa] Yar’Adua was alarmed that the prices of cement was going up every day and he called for a meeting when the price was $300 per ton. He said it was too much, so what do we do? He was briefed on the reason nobody else could bring cement into Nigeria and told that there was a policy in place that only those building factories could import cement into Nigeria, and we did not have enough capacity in terms of manufacturing to meet Nigerian demand.”

There were only three or four cement plants in Nigeria at the time producing about 4 million MT per annum against what the country needed – almost 10 million MT.

The president ruled that the existing backward integration policy could not be continued and established a committee who came up with the idea that the policy should allow companies outside manufacturers who were building plants, in order to bring prices down.

“So they selected six companies to be able to import cement and we were chosen as one of the six companies,” Rabiu says.

But there was a big challenge.

“How do you import a million tons in a year or even 100,000 tons a month in bags? That will be like five or six cargos a month, to be able to take the bags out and transport them all over the country, so nobody could actually do it.

 “The other guys had terminals, which means they were discharging the cement in bulk and taking it to their warehouses and bagging them in the warehouses and they had been in the business for a long time,” Rabiu says.

In order to reap the rewards in the lucrative cement industry, all the new six companies who had been granted licenses needed to secure terminals at the port. But the barriers to entry were significantly high.

Rabiu decided on a disruptive approach. “So I now came up with the idea of the floating terminal. It is like a factory on a vessel, so it moves. It is a big ship with a terminal in the ship. It was an idea I read about a long time ago and I decided to be innovative.”

He approached the only terminal at the time that was free in Greece and agreed on a price.

 Fearing the size of the competition, Rabiu knew he needed to get protection for his business, if he stood a chance of competing favorably in the new venture.

“I knew that we had tough competition from the people who had factories and they were not happy with the government giving us the license because they were making so much money they did not want anyone to come into the business.

“So they were doing everything to frustrate it [the process]. I knew that there would be a problem. So before I bought my vessel, I came to Nigeria and sought an appointment to meet the president who granted me an audience and I explained everything to him.”

Rabiu made an impassioned plea to President Yar’Adua —  he knew he could drive down the price of cement from $300 per bag to $150 if he had his own terminal.

However, building the terminal would take more than a year to complete, during which time cement prices would continue to rise, which would be detrimental to the Nigerian economy.

A floating terminal meant that the timeline of going to market was significantly reduced but more importantly, without the blessing from the president, the other giants in the industry would muscle him out of the game.

Once approval from the president was secured, Rabiu purchased his floating terminal and was ready to reap in the millions of dollars awaiting him in bags of cement.

 It was logistically impossible for Rabiu to set up shop in Lagos. These circumstances pushed him to explore other means through which he could realize his goal. He approached Port Harcourt and this move proved to be fortuitous for him because all the eastern markets were coming to the port as there was nothing in the east.

However, not everything was ideal as he was allowed only one week in a month after which point he had to leave the port, making it difficult to offload his cement.

Rabiu was faced with more hurdles but eventually, was forced to consult the highest authority in the country to explain the barriers he encountered. 

It was only after an order from the president that the impediments to Rabiu’s business stopped and, with that, came the growth of the BUA Group, to become one of the leading conglomerates in West Africa. As the monopolists gradually loosened their grips on the cement industry, Rabiu used the opportunity to build capacity. The company has five plants now.

“That experience strengthened my resolve because it was not easy. I never thought I was going to quit. If you don’t fight back or if you are weak, you will never survive. You have to understand that this is not personal but business and you have to keep fighting. When they see that you are fighting and not giving up then they let go because most of these things are illegal anyway,” says Rabiu.

BUA Group steadily expanded to cover new ground. With the new merger, Rabiu has seen an opportunity outside Nigeria’s borders. The demand between Sokoto and Niger through to Burkina Faso is estimated to be about 4 million MT of cement per annum.

Coupled with the fact that these countries are landlocked, there is a need to import all their clinker, the raw material needed for making cement.

His new merger with CCNN will create the second largest cement company on the Nigerian bourse after African mammoth, Dangote Cement.

Rabiu believes in Nigeria’s ability to produce its own products without relying on imports from other countries and in so doing, create tens of thousands of jobs for the Nigerian economy.

 As the avenues to expand in Nigeria get limited, BUA Group has consistently sought to broaden its reach to new territories.

The fighting days are long gone and BUA under the aegis of its bold leader is ready to conquer new turf in Africa.

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