Top 10 richest people in South Africa in 2020

Top 15 richest business owners ranked: black South African ...
Patrice Motsepe and wife. SOURCE: FILE/

Hurun Research Institute has published its annual billionaire ranking for 2020, which includes six names from South Africa.

The Hurun Global Rich List 2020 ranked 2,816 billionaires from 71 countries and from 2,182 companies. Over the last year, 1,811 billionaires saw their wealth increase, of which 479 are new faces to the list.

604 billionaires saw their wealth decrease, with 130 dropping off the list (16 of which died). 369 billionaires saw their wealth stay the same.

“A boom in tech valuations and strong stockmarkets across the US, India and China propelled the billionaires to record heights,” said Hurun Report chairman and chief researcher Rupert Hoogewerf.

“The US had a record number of 626 billionaires. China, despite the Trade War, added 182 new faces to hit 799 billionaires, three times the number of new faces in the US, widening the gap with the US.”

Hoogewerf noted that China today has more billionaires than the US and India combined.

“Despite a sell-off on the first day after stock markets reopened after Chinese New Year on the back of coronavirus, China’s stock market has rallied by 14% since last year’s list.”

While the Hurun list ranks only 2,800 billionaires, Hoogewerf says that there are around 6,500 dollar billionaires in the world (up 500 on 2019’s estimates), assuming that for every one billionaire identified through public trading, at least one if not more billionaire exists through private wealth, particularly from the Gulf states.

“We have found 626 billionaires in the USA, for example, suggesting the true number should be at least double that, perhaps as many as 1,500. In China, we have found 800, but the actual number should be closer to 2,000,” he said.

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Global top 10

The 10 richest people in the world have shifted somewhat over the last year – but Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos remains the richest man on earth, despite his wealth dipping 5% to $140 billion.

French business magnate Bernard Arnault has climbed above Bill Gates to be ranked the second richest man in the world, while Gates has slipped to third.

#Billionaire2019 Net Worth (US$bn)2020 Net Worth (US$bn)Change (%)
1Jeff Bezos147140-5%
2Bernard Arnault86107+24%
3Bill Gates96106+10%
4Warren Buffet88102+16%
5Mark Zuckerberg8084+5%
6Amancio Ortega5681+45%
7Carlos Slim Helu6672+9%
8Sergey Brin5468+26%
9Larry Page5367+26%
9Mukesh Ambani5467+24%
9Steve Ballmer4167+63%

South African billionaires

South African billionaires continued to slide down the rankings, with two ranked in 2019 falling of the list entirely. These are Laurie Dippenaar – who made his debut on the Hurun Ranking in 2019 with a net worth of $1.7 billion – and mining executive Desmond Sacco, who was listed having a net worth of $1.1 billion in 2019.

But with two off the list, the 2020 ranking also saw the debut of Capitec founder Michiel le Roux on the ranking, with a net worth recorded at $1.4 billion.

Diamond magnate Nicky Oppenheimer was again ranked as the richest man in the country, seeing his wealth grow marginally at 1%. Luxury retail billionaire Johann Rupert saw his wealth grow 5%, and African Minerals boss Patrice Motsepe also saw his net worth grow 6%

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Despite this growth, all of South Africa’s billionaires fell down the overall rankings, with Shoprite investor Christo Wiese seeing the biggest fall, slipping 1,047 places.

Oppenheimer fell out of the top 250 (losing 42 places) and Naspers chairman Koos Bekker fell out of the top 1,000 – down 247 places.

These are the richest people, according to Hurun:

#Billionaire2019 Net Worth (US$bn)2020 Net Worth (US$bn)Change (%)
259Nicky Oppenheimer7.67.7+1%
386Johann Rupert5.55.8+5%
1208Koos Bekker2.62.4-8%
1530Patrice Motsepe1.81.9+6%
2000Michiel le Roux1.4
2476Christo Wiese1.81.1-39%

Forbes is expected to publish its annual ranking of the world’s billionaires in March.

Both Forbes and Hurun base their billionaire data off publicly available information and investment data, however wealth is measured over different time periods.

Hurun’s data is a snapshot of wealth at the end of January 2019, while Forbes’ data is a snapshot of wealth from February 2019.

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