South Africa’s richest people lost R6 billion thanks to the coronavirus

Forbes’ daily tracking of billionaire wealth shows red across the board – including for South Africa’s super wealthy, who have seen their fortunes decline in line with the global market crash.

Markets have seen a massive drop in the wake of the international coronavirus outbreak, as investors and economists start factoring in the effect the disease has had, and will continue to have on output.

This is particularly true for the Chinese economy – the second largest in the world – whose manufacturing sector is intricately tied to many countries like South Africa.

China’s GDP growth for is expected to be cut from around 6% to as low as 4.8% in 2020, due to containment measures in the country, to fight the spread of the virus. This has impacted key industries within China, and with a global slowdown of imports and exports to the region, the knock-on effects have been felt world-wide.

The effect of the coronavirus outbreak has now been exacerbated by a crash in the global oil price, driven by a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, which flared up overnight.

Oil prices crashed 30%, sending related stocks and tied economies into a tailspin.

The anxiety surrounding the coronavirus outbreak intensified over the weekend as the number of cases and deaths increased, Bloomberg reported.

“This is starting to look like it could be one of those turning points that marks a generation of investors, like the bursting of the internet bubble in 2000 or the financial crisis in 2008-2009,” it said.

These issues have sent most markets plummeting – the US S&P 500, Nasdaq and Dow Jones were all down 5%; Japan’s Nikkei fell 5.1%; Australian indices fell over 7%; and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 4.2%. In South Africa, the JSE also fell around 5%, in line with global markets.

Shares in Sasol fell 45%.

With most of their wealth tied up in equities and stocks, this global crash has had a major impact on the world’s wealthiest people – especially those tied up in the petrochemical industry.

Indian billionaire, Mukesh Ambani, lost $5.6 billion overnight, as his stocks in Reliance Industries – which has operations in textiles, petrochemicals and many other sectors – tanked 25% on the back of the recent downturn.

And,only 35 of the over 2,000 billionaires tracked by Forbes showed gains on Monday.

South African billionaires

South Africa’s richest lost a combined $370 million (R5.9 billion) in the fallout.

The biggest loser was luxury goods magnate Johann Rupert, who accounted for $220 million of the total lost.

The table below outlines the losses:

Billionaire Wealth Change %
Johann Rupert $5.6 billion -$220 million -3.8%
Patrice Motsepe $1.9 billion -$65 million -3.4%
Koos Bekker $2.3 billion -$42 million -1.8%
Nicky Oppenheimer $7.6 billion -$23 million -0.3%
Michiel le Roux $1.1 billion -$20 million -1.9%
Total -$370 million

Read: How many South Africans are worth more than R450 million

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South Africa’s richest people lost R6 billion thanks to the coronavirus