Australian newspaper, the Financial Review, has published its list of the 200 richest people in the country, which includes South African-born businessman, Ivan Glasenberg.
Glaseneberg, who serves as resources giant Glencore’s chief executive officer, ranks 16th on the list, with an estimated net worth of A$4.54 billion (R52 billion).
He was born in South Africa, but has since moved to Switzerland – precluding him from most local rich lists. He is also not listed among local billionaires in global rankings like the Forbes or Bloomberg billionaire lists.
Glaseneberg has retained his South African citizenship, while adding Australia and Switzerland to his collection. Glasenberg moved to Australia in 1986 to head up Glencore’s Asian coal division.
While ranked among the richest people in Australia, Glasenberg’s wealth has dropped significantly this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic fallout. The executive owns 9% of the shares in Glencore, which has been heavily impacted by the global pandemic.
“It wasn’t the exit he expected when Glasenberg foreshadowed in 2018 he’d step down as Glencore chief within five years. The pandemic took its toll with the group plunging to a $US2.6 billion ($3.6 billion) half-year loss in August after writing down assets across coal, oil, copper and zinc,” the Financial Review said.
“It tapped credit lines to take advantage of falling oil prices, selling it for higher prices later. But it pushed up debt and the miner – of which Glasenberg owns 9% – scrapped dividends. His wealth has sunk to its lowest level since 2016.”
Overall, Glasenberg’s wealth is down 36.6% from A$7.17 billion in 2019, with the chief executive featuring among the top 10 in previous years.
Wealthy South Africans often make their way onto rich lists in other countries due to their dual citizenship status. These individuals often fly under the radar in bigger lists like Forbes and Bloomberg.
Examples include Nathan Kirsch, Douw Steyn, Mark Shuttleworth and Vivian Imerman, who all rank among some of the richest people in the UK, while Richard Enthoven, owner of the casual dining chain Nando’s, and the Hollard Group of insurance companies, has also settled in Australia.
South Africans have historically chosen Australia as a prime destination for emigration, with the island country home to 194,000 South African-born migrants as of 2019.
It has consistently drawn some of South Africa’s wealthiest people to its shores, with dozens of local high net worth individuals (HNWIs) contributing in some part to the AUD$9.8 billion added to Australia’s economy though its significant investors programme in recent years.
Australia is not only popular among South Africa’s wealthy – as of 2019 it is the most popular destination in the world for global HNWIs.
Looking at net inflow and outflow of HNWIs, the latest wealth migration report New World Wealth found that Australia was the biggest beneficiary of millionaire migrations over the last year, seeing around 12,000 wealthy people settle there.
It was followed by the United States (10,800), Switzerland (4,000) and Canada (2,200).
“Australia tops the list possibly due to its points-based immigration system which favours wealthy people, business owners and people with professional qualifications – especially lawyers, accountants, doctors and engineers,” the group said.
Other possible reasons for Australia’s popularity among migrating HNWIs include the safety of the country; its climate, nature and scenery; a first world economy; and other lifestyle factors.
“Although company tax and income tax rates in Australia are quite high, it should be noted that unlike most other developed countries, Australia has no inheritance taxes – this encourages wealthy people to stay in the country and build their businesses for future generations,” NWW said.