Johann Rupert is R19 billion poorer than he was at the beginning of the year, after Russia upended global markets.
Rupert’s losses aren’t big compared to those suffered by Elon Musk – but his fellow South African billionaires have made money amid the chaos.
Nicky Oppenheimer, for instance, is quite a bit richer than he was at the end of 2021.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this week sent oil prices soaring and the ruble crashing, and added new worries about a global supply chain that showed its weaknesses during the pandemic.
It has also left South Africa’s richest man, Johann Rupert, a lot poorer than he was at the end of last year.
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires index, which publishes daily updates for the 500 richest people on the planet, Rupert and family have seen the equivalent of R18.8 billion in wealth evaporate so far in 2022. That may not be the end of it either, with an uncertain outlook for the luxury brands that fall under Rupert’s Cie Financiere Richemont as the world generally grows poorer under the reduced trade brought by sanctions.
The market movements have not exactly impoverished Rupert yet; at an estimated $10.7 billion, he is still worth well over R160 billion, and comfortably the richest person in South Africa.
Nor is Rupert’s losses particularly big – in either absolute or percentage terms – compared to some. So far this year, Elon Musk has lost nearly 18% of his wealth by Bloomberg’s estimate. In rand terms, that is not much shy of R750 billion shaved off his assets. He still remains the richest person on Earth, though, and his R3.4 trillion net wealth is still above 1% of America’s gross domestic product (GDP).
But Rupert could feel aggrieved compared to the likes of South Africa’s second-richest person Nicky Oppenheimer, who is quite a bit richer than he was at the start of the year.
According to Bloomberg’s index, Oppenheimer is up some R5.7 billion so far this year, an increase in his wealth of 4.7%, as his private equity holdings continue to recover nicely from the ravages of the pandemic.
Oppenheimer is now officially worth R128 billion, according to the billionaires index.
Others have done better still. Ivan Glasenberg, of commodities trader Glencore, has seen his wealth grow by 14.7% this year, an increase worth not much under R15.5 billion.
His wealth is now put at around R121 billion.
Glencore has some Russian headaches, but strictly limited ones. On Wednesday it said it had no operational footprint in Russia and that its "trading exposure is not material" in that country.