This South African billionaire surged up the UK’s rich list – and is now one of three locals inside the top 100

The UK’s Sunday Times has published its Rich List for 2021, recording the country’s 250 wealthiest individuals.

The list covers individuals and families in the United Kingdom, and includes many businessmen and women who have dual citizenship through business, investments or residency in the country, and includes four South Africans.

Leading the local rankings is the Oppenheimer family, with Nicky Oppenheimer et al having an estimated net worth of £5.797 billion (R114.2 billion), up £197 million from last year.

The Oppenheimers are followed by South African-born Eswatini businessman Nathan Kirsch, who has an estimated £4.178 billion (R82.3 billion) fortune, according to the Sunday Times.

The other two South Africans who make it into the top 250 are well-known insurance businessman and property developer Douw Steyn, and South African-born investor and philanthropist Manfred Gorvy.

Remarkably, Steyn has moved up over 70 places from 150th position in 2020 to 79th in 2021.

Steyn has seen his net worth climb by a staggering £1.1 billion (R21.7 billion) over the last year, according to the paper, taking his value up to an estimated £2.05 billion (R40.4 billion).

The Sunday Times lists Steyn’s main source of wealth as being Comparethemarket.com – owned by UK-based insurance and financial services company, BGL Group, which was founded by Steyn as Budget Insurance in 1992.

Today, the company serves over 11 million customers in the UK – while Steyn has ventured into property development back home in South Africa, leading the Steyn City development in Gauteng, which has drawn billions of rands in investment.

2021 2020 Name Net worth Change
31 23 Nicky Oppenheimer and family £5 797 million +£197 million
42 39 Nathan Kirsh £4 178 million +£522 million
79 150 Douw Steyn and family £2 050 million +£1 100 million
176 157 Manfred Gorvy and family £921 million +£3 million

Previous rich lists from the Sunday Times tracked the 1,000 richest people in the UK, which also included other South Africans like SA-born property mogul, Sir Donald Gordon; Ubuntu developer Mark Shuttleworth; pharmaceutical boss Tony Tabatznik; businessman Vivian Imerman; and investment banker Richard Gnodde.

These wealthy individuals did not make the top 250.

Outside of the UK ranking, four other local billionaires feature regularly in global lists, including Johann Rupert, Koos Bekker, Patrice Motsepe, and Michiel le Roux.

Big year for billionaires

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic and severe market disruption, 2020 proved to be a productive year for the super-wealthy, the Sunday Times said.

The 2020 Rich List identified a record 171 UK billionaires — 24 more than in 2020 – with a combined fortune growing by nearly 22% to £597.269 billion.

“The pandemic pushed the fast-forward button on the decline of ailing high street giants and accelerated the growth of online retailers,” it said.

Topping the overall ranking in 2021 is businessman and investor, Sir Leonard Blavatnik, who saw his wealth increase by £7.2 billion, to £23 billion. Blavatnik has his hand in many different ventures but saw big gains from the music industry and a foray into sport.

Vacuum mogul, Sir James Dyson, the richest man in the UK a year ago, dropped to fourth overall in 2021, despite seeing his wealth increase by £100 million.


Read: How South Africa’s richest 1% make their money

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This South African billionaire surged up the UK’s rich list – and is now one of three locals inside the top 100