Meet the ultra-rich South Africans you’ve probably never heard of

The UK’s Sunday Times Rich List for 2018 shows that the country’s wealthiest 1,000 people saw their combined fortune rise to £724 billion, up 10% from a record £658 billion in 2017.

The paper noted that as many as 94% of the 1,000 wealthiest people built their own fortunes. Inherited wealth and old money have been all but banished from the 30th annual list.

There are a total of 145 billionaires — also a record and 11 more than in 2017 — born, based or with substantial assets on these shores.

The list covers individuals and families in the country, including many businessmen and women who have dual citizenship (through business, investments or residency).

Nine South African born individuals appear on the list, including Nicky Oppenheimer and Nathan Kirsh who regularly feature on the Forbes wealth list. Also on the list is tech entrepreneur Mark Shuttlerworth, who is domiciled on the Isle of Man and who recorded a whopping £340 million increase over the past year.

Jim Ratcliffe, who founded chemical firm Ineos, topped the list with an estimated fortune of £21.05 billion. He is followed by brothers, Sri and Gopi, worth £20.64 billion, while media mogul Sir Len Blavatnik is third with a fortune of £15.26 billion.

“This year’s biggest risers include Sir James Dyson, whose technology business has been boosted by exports and a suite of new products. The inventor’s fortune is put at £9.5 billion, a rise of £1.7 billion in a year,” The Sunday Times said.

Below is a list of the nine South African-born millionaires who feature in 2018:


Nicky Oppenheimer and Family

  • Diamonds and Mining
  • £5.537 billion (2017: £5.534 billion)
  • Oppenheimer, who has an estate near Maidenhead, sold his 40% stake in De Beers for $5.1 billion in 2012, reinvesting much of the cash in African food company investments and venture capital.

Nathan Kirsh

  • Cash and carry and Property and Investment
  • £3.944 billion (2017: £3.977 billion)
  • Kirsh owns 75% of Jetro Holdings, which operates more than 100 cash-and-carry stores and restaurant depots in America. He made his first fortune with a corn-milling business before moving into wholesale supermarkets and commercial property.
  • Kirsh’s son and daughter bought four apartments in Trump Tower in New York with a combined value of $56 million.

Douw Steyn and Family

  • Insurance
  • £900 million (2017: £850 million)
  • Aleksandr Orlov, the talking meerkat who stars in ads for price comparison website Comparethemarket.com, is better known in this country than South African entrepreneur Steyn, whose fortune has benefited from commission fees worth up to £80 per click from the site. It is part of the Peterborough-based BGL Group in which Steyn, 65, and his family have a majority stake. Plans for a float were shelved in November when a Canadian fund bought a 30% holding for £675 million.
  • Boasted no fewer than three former presidents — Bill Clinton, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela — at his 50th birthday party.

Manfred Gorvy and Family

  • Property and Food
  • £873 million
  • South African-born accountant Gorvy’s interests range from property and venture capital to African agriculture and Refresco, an independent soft drinks and fruit juice bottler. His Hanover Acceptances group, based in London, saw assets rise to more than £823 million in 2016, the Sunday Times said.

Sir Donald Gordon and Family

  • Property
  • £700 million (2017: £800 million)
  • South African-born Gordon’s, (87) main UK operation split in 2010 into Intu Properties and Capital & Counties Properties.

Mark Shuttleworth

  • Internet
  • £500 million (2017: £160 million)
  • “Shuttleworth’s wealth is soaring due to the success of his business Canonical, which uses the Ubuntu open-source software it developed to allow televisions, cars and other devices to connect to the web. Netflix, Tesla and Deutsche Telekom are among 800 clients of the London-based operation, whose sales are thought to have soared by 61% to more than £68 million in 2016.”
  • Shuttleworth, 44, who has dual South African and British nationality, has a fortune valued at $1 billion by Bloomberg.

Tony Tabatznik and Family

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • £500 million (no change)
  • South African-born Tabatznik, 70, sold his Stevenage business Arrow Generics to US firm Watson Pharmaceuticals for $1.75 billion. He had previously netted £200 million for his family’s Generics (UK) outfit.

Vivian Imerman

  • Spirits and Food
  • £390 million (2017: £390 million)
  • South African-born Imerman has been called the “the Man from Del Monte” after turning around the tinned fruit company and making £380 million from his share of the business, the Sunday Times said. He later took control of Whyte & Mackay, the Scottish whisky group, netting £396 million from its 2007 sale.
  • Imerman, 62, is currently in charge of London investment operation Vasari, “which has a holding in Leon, the restaurant chain co-founded by David Dimbleby’s son Henry”.

Richard Gnodde

  • Finance
  • £140 million (2017: £130 million)
  • South African-born Gnodde, 58, took over as CEO of Goldman Sachs International after the exit in 2016 of Michael Sherwood.
  • He and his wife Kara, 50, are trustees of Kew Gardens.

Rank Name Source Net Worth (GBP) Change Net Worth (ZAR)
23 Nicky Oppenheimer and Family Diamonds and Mining £5.537 billion +£3 million R92.35 billion
31 Nathan Kirsh Cash and carry, Property, Investment £3.944 billion +£33 million R65.78 billion
154= Douw Steyn and family Insurance £900 million £50 million R15.01 billion
163 Manfred Gorvy and family Property, Food £873 million +£19 million R14.56 billion
197= Sir Donald Gordon and family Property £700 million -£100 million R11.67 billion
251= Mark Shuttleworth Internet £500 million +£340 million R8.34 billion
251= Tony Tabatznik and family Pharmaceuticals £500 million No change R8.34 billion
329= Vivian Imerman Spirits, Food £390 million No change R6.50 billion
836= Richard Gnodde Finance £140 million +£10 million R2.33 billion

Read: The two South Africans who are listed among the 25 richest people in the UK

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