Commodities Rout Erases Billions from Africa's Biggest Fortunes

HThe collapse in commodity prices and the rise of the African middle class has flipped the fortune trends of the continent's richest people.

Commodities tycoons Aliko Dangote and Patrice Motsepe have lost almost $4 billion in 2015, while Nigerian telecom billionaire Mike Adenuga and South African retail mogul Christo Wiese have added almost $2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

"The go-go years of African billionaires whose wealth has been built around oil is over," said Martyn Davies, CEO of Johannesburg, South Africa-based investment research firm, Frontier Advisory. "We have placed far too much emphasis on a handful of people making significant capital through distorted-priced resources. True wealth creation is where billionaires are created from non-resource assets."

Growth in Africa's middle class has increased demand for services, an African central bank governor said in June, while a recent study from South African research company New World Wealth labeled construction, financial services and property development as leading sources of future wealth creation on the world's poorest continent, according to a Bloomberg report today.

Adenuga's fortune has been boosted by 6 million more subscribers at his mobile phone company, Globacom, since April 2014. Shares in Steinhoff International, Wiese's main asset and Africa's largest furniture retailer, have risen 30 percent this year

Wiese has added $1.4 billion to his $7.4 billion fortune this year while Adenuga's $4.4 billion fortune is up $489 million.

Aliko Dangote, Africa's richest person, amassed a $14.9 billion fortune by founding Nigeria's biggest cement producer and has lost $3.6 billion in 2015. He also owns stakes in oil fields and is building the country's biggest oil refinery.

South Africa's Patrice Motsepe, who has a $1.6 billion fortune, is chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, an iron-ore and platinum miner whose shares have fallen 41 percent in 2015, helping to push his fortune down $329 million this year.

Including Egypt, Africa has eight billionaires among the 400 world's richest people, with a combined $54 billion in wealth.



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