Cement Magnate Dangote Overtaken As Africa’s Richest Man – Forbes
Nigerian cement tycoon Aliko Dangote, has lost his prestige as Africa’s richest man for the first time in 12 years.
According to Forbes’ calculations, the continent’s new number one is Johann Rupert of South Africa, who built a fortune in luxury goods and more.
Rupert overtook Dangote on Thursday, June 15 and has an estimated net worth of $11.7 billion, according to Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires ranking at 10 a.m. ET on June 21.
Although Rupert has been on Forbes’ list of billionaires since 1997, his eclipse of Dangote marks the first time that he ranks as the richest person in Africa, Forbe said.
How did it happen?
In the new ranking, Dangote, 66, stands in second place behind Rupert, 73, among African billionaires with a fortune estimated at $10.4 billion. That’s a $3.7 billion drop from the $14.1 billion net worth Dangote had on Wednesday, June 14.
Forbes, on its website, stated that the decline of Dangote’s fortune comes in the wake of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s decision to float its currency, the naira, on June 14, abandoning the fixed exchange rate with the U.S. dollar. The naira, which had been trading around 465 per U.S. dollar, plummeted about 40% against the U.S. dollar on Friday, June 16 and fell to a low of N690 to the U.S. dollar on Tuesday, June 20.
The majority of Dangote’s fortune lies in his 85% ownership of listed firm Dangote Cement, the continent’s largest cement producer, shares of which have risen about 1% since the central bank’s decision to float the currency. The plunging naira far outweighed the slight uptick in Dangote Cement’s shares in shifting Dangote’s fortune, the magazine stated.
Who is Rupert?
The continent’s new No. 1, Rupert is chairman of Compagnie Financière Richemont, a Switzerland-listed luxury goods powerhouse that boasts brands such as Cartier, Montblanc and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Richemont was founded by Rupert in 1988 when he spun off the international assets from The Rembrandt Group, his father’s conglomerate formed in the 1940s. Rupert also serves as chairman of Remgro, a South African investment holding company with a diversified portfolio in banking, healthcare and media companies. He also owns part of the Saracens English rugby team and says his biggest regret was not buying half of Gucci when he had the opportunity to do so–decades ago– for just $175 million.
Rupert’s net worth has increased by nearly $3 billion since early 2022 and more than doubled since early 2020, when Forbes estimated it at $4.6 billion.
Why floats the Naira?
The Nigerian Central Bank’s decision to float the naira is part of Nigeria’s new President Bola Tinubu’s larger efforts encourage investment into Nigeria and stop black market operators profiting from the margin between official and unofficial financial markets.
Tinubu, who was inaugurated in May this year, has instituted several measures aimed at shifting the Nigerian economy. One of the steps includes abolishing the country’s fuel subsidies, an incentive that has been in place since the 1970s.
Can Dangote make a comeback?
According to Nimi Wariboko, a former investment banker in Nigeria and former strategic consultant at Nigeria’s Central Bank, a comeback for Dangote to reclaim the top spot is possible.
Forbes quoted Wariboko as saying that Dangote may be able to play Tinubu’s scrapping of state fuel subsidies to his advantage with his company’s launch of a new oil refinery in Lagos last month.
The plant was built to combat the country’s fuel shortages. Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer has not been able to refine the oil extracted domestically.
To address the age-old irony, Dangote built the plant at a reported cost of $19 billion, something Wariboko says might also provide Dangote with an opportunity to reclaim his position as Africa’s wealthiest individual.
“So, he’s going to have a monopoly on [refining oil in Nigeria] and also be able to sell at a higher market price. So, this fall seems temporary,” Wariboko was quoted as saying.