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South Africa’s Top Billionaires Thrive in 2023 Amid Global Wealth Decline


The Hurun Report has released its 2023 Global Rich List, ranking over 3,112 billionaires worldwide, including five South African billionaires. The total number of billionaires has decreased by 8% from 3,381 in the previous year, and the cumulative wealth of the world’s richest people has fallen by 10% to US$13.7 trillion.

  1. The Hurun Report’s 2023 Global Rich List revealed a decline in the number of billionaires worldwide and a 10% decrease in their cumulative wealth, while five South African billionaires made the list.
  2. Despite challenging conditions for wealth creation, particularly in the technology sector, the luxury goods industry experienced growth, with South Africa’s wealthiest individual, Johann Rupert, doubling his fortune since 2019.
  3. Other South African billionaires on the list include Nicky Oppenheimer, Koos Bekker, Patrice Motsepe, and Michiel Le Roux, with varying degrees of wealth increase or decrease.

The report revealed that 1,078 billionaires experienced an increase in their wealth over the past year, with 176 newcomers entering the list. In contrast, 2,479 billionaires saw their wealth decrease or remain the same, while 445 individuals dropped off the ranking altogether.

French business magnate Bernard Arnault claimed the title of the world’s richest person in 2023, becoming the fifth person to hold the title in the last decade, following Carlos Slim, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk. Musk held the title in 2022 but lost US$100 billion when Tesla’s value dropped by US$700 billion, only managing to recover around US$50 billion by the end of the year.

Hurun noted that it was a challenging year for wealth creation, particularly in the technology sector, with several ventures failing. Meta (formerly Facebook) founder Mark Zuckerberg lost US$35 billion on the unsuccessful metaverse venture, but managed to regain almost US$20 billion after aggressive cost-cutting. However, not all losses were recovered, such as Sam Bankman-Fried’s US$21 billion fortune after the collapse of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange.

Despite the overall decline in billionaire wealth, some industries flourished, including luxury goods. South Africa’s wealthiest individual, Johann Rupert, saw his net worth jump to US$11 billion in 2023, ranking him as the 187th richest person globally. Rupert is the chairman of Swiss-based luxury goods holding company Richemont, which owns brands like Cartier, Dunhill, and Mont Blanc. He also chairs South African investment holding company Remgro, which invests in healthcare, food, sports, and media. Rupert’s wealth has doubled since 2019, when his net worth was US$5.5 billion.

South Africa’s second-richest individual, diamond magnate Nicky Oppenheimer, also saw his wealth grow from US$7.6 billion in 2019 to US$8.3 billion in 2023. He held the title of the country’s richest person until 2021 when Rupert claimed the top spot.

Other South African billionaires include media mogul Koos Bekker, with a net worth of US$2.7 billion, followed by Patrice Motsepe, brother-in-law of President Cyril Ramaphosa, with a net worth of US$2 billion. Capitec founder Michiel Le Roux rounds out the list of South Africa’s wealthiest with a net worth of US$1.3 billion.

The table below provides an overview of South Africa’s wealthiest individuals in 2023, their net worth in January 2022 and January 2023, and the change in their wealth.

Rank (2022)Rank (2023)BillionaireNet Worth (Jan 2022)Net Worth (Jan 2023)Change
238187Johann Rupert$10.0 billion$11.0 billion+$1.0 billion
356287Nicky Oppenheimer$8.1 billion$8.3 billion+$0.2 billion
14081226Koos Bekker$2.6 billion$2.7 billion+$0.1 billion
16361682Patrice Motsepe$2.3 billion$2.0 billion-$0.3 billion
22372451Michiel le Roux$1.6 billion$1.3 billion-$0.3 billion
These rankings and net worth figures are based on the data provided by the Hurun Report’s 2023 Global Rich List.

The global top 10 includes Bernard Arnault (LVMH) at number one, Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX) in second place, and Bertrand Puech and family (Hermès) in third. Jeff Bezos (Amazon) fell to fourth place, while Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway) held on to fifth place. Bill Gates (Microsoft) dropped out of the top five for the first time since the inception of the Hurun Global Rich List, followed by Steve Ballmer (Microsoft, LA Clippers), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Mukesh Ambani (Reliance Industries), and Francoise Bettencourt Meyers (L’Oreal).



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