SA’s Rupert overtakes Dangote as Africa’s richest

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South African luxury goods magnate Johann Rupert and his family have claimed the title of Africa’s top billionaire, surpassing Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote, according to the latest Forbes billionaire ranking. Currently ranked as the 201st wealthiest globally, Mr. Rupert and his family have taken the lead, with Mr. Dangote now positioned at 219th.

A significant devaluation of the Naira by approximately 40% in June of the previous year, coupled with its subsequent free fall, contributed to the decline in the valuation of Mr. Dangote’s wealth. The Nigerian entrepreneur had held the top spot on the African billionaire ranking for over 12 years. His fortune, primarily earned in Naira, was adversely affected by the currency’s poor performance, ending 2023 as the third worst-performing currency among 151 currencies tracked by Bloomberg. Mr. Dangote’s wealth, currently valued at $9.5 billion, experienced a nearly one-third decrease in the past year.

Born in Stellenbosch, South Africa, over 73 years ago, Mr. Rupert chairs the Swiss-based luxury goods company Compagnie Financiere Richemont and South Africa-based investment holding company Remgro. His family’s net worth is estimated at $10 billion, and he holds a 26% stake in Reinet, an investment holding company based in Luxembourg. Richemont boasts iconic brands such as Cartier and Montblanc.

Mr. Rupert’s wealth has steadily risen since 2020, rebounding from a 34.3% slump over the preceding two years. It reached $7.1 billion in 2021, surged to $8.9 billion in 2022, and hit an all-time high of $11.1 billion last year, elevating him to the 157th position on the Forbes World Billionaire Ranking in 2023.

In addition to his business ventures, Mr. Rupert has ownership stakes in the Saracens English rugby team and Anthonij Rupert Wines, named after his deceased brother. Notably, he considers his failure to acquire 50% of Gucci, at the opportunity price of $175 million, as one of his most significant regrets.