The 4 richest people in South Africa at the start of 2019 – and how much money they lost last year

2018 saw at least three super wealthy South Africans lose their Forbes-certified dollar billionaire status during the course of the year.

While seven South African billionaires were listed in the 2017 Forbes Billionaire ranking, only five made the cut in 2018 – with one more dropping from the live rankings before the end of the year.

The remaining billionaires, South Africa’s four richest people – Nicky Oppenheimer, Johann Rupert, Koos Bekker and Patrice Motsepe – were also not spared from heavy losses during the year.

Now starting in 2019, these four super wealthy businessmen are worth a combined $17 billion (R246.5 billion at current rates), having lost $3 billion (R43.5 billion) since the start of 2018.

Luxury good magnate, Johann Rupert, was the biggest loser according to Forbes’ metrics, accounting for $1.9 billion (R27.6 billion) of the lost wealth.

Allan Gray, mining magnate Desmond Sacco, and Apsen Pharma head Stephen Saad were the billionaire ‘casualties’ of 2018.

Saad, who cracked the official Forbes ranking in March 2018 but dropped off by the close of the year, had a particularly challenging time, with Aspen Pharmacare’s stock losing half of its value in 2018, on the back of mounting debt and the sale of the group’s infant milk business.

With the group’s stock tumble, he is no longer ranked among South Africa’s dollar billionaires. At the start of 2018, he had a net worth of $1.2 billion.

This is how the country’s richest fared over the past 12 months.

# Billionaire January 2018 (US$bn) January 2019 (US$bn) Change (%)
180 Nicky Oppenheimer 7.7 7.6 -1.3%
318 Johann Rupert 7.1 5.2 -26.8%
986 Koos Bekker 2.8 2.2 -21.4%
1143 Patrice Motsepe 2.4 2.0 -16.7%

Read: How South Africa’s top 40 companies performed in 2018

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The 4 richest people in South Africa at the start of 2019 – and how much money they lost last year