Ultra-rich South Africans


The UK’s Sunday Times Rich List for 2018 shows that the country’s wealthiest 1,000 people saw their combined fortune rise to £724 billion, up 10% from a record £658 billion in 2017.    The paper noted that as many as 94% of the 1,000 wealthiest people built their own fortunes. Inherited wealth and old money have been all but banished from the 30th annual list.

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There are a total of 145 billionaires — also a record and 11 more than in 2017 — born, based or with substantial assets on these shores.   The list covers individuals and families in the country, including many businessmen and women who have dual citizenship (through business, investments or residency).

Nine South African born individuals appear on the list, including Nicky Oppenheimer and Nathan Kirsh who regularly feature on the Forbes wealth list. Also on the list is tech entrepreneur Mark Shuttlerworth, who is domiciled on the Isle of Man and who recorded a whopping £340 million increase over the past year.

Jim Ratcliffe, who founded chemical firm Ineos, topped the list with an estimated fortune of £21.05 billion. He is followed by brothers, Sri and Gopi, worth £20.64 billion, while media mogul Sir Len Blavatnik is third with a fortune of £15.26 billion.

“This year’s biggest risers include Sir James Dyson, whose technology business has been boosted by exports and a suite of new products. The inventor’s fortune is put at £9.5 billion, a rise of £1.7 billion in a year,” The Sunday Times said.

Below is a list of the nine South African-born millionaires who feature in 2018:

Nicky Oppenheimer and Family

  • Diamonds and Mining
  • £5.537 billion (2017: £5.534 billion)
  • Oppenheimer, who has an estate near Maidenhead, sold his 40% stake in De Beers for $5.1 billion in 2012, reinvesting much of the cash in African food company investments and venture capital.

Nathan Kirsh

  • Cash and carry and Property and Investment
  • £3.944 billion (2017: £3.977 billion)
  • Kirsh owns 75% of Jetro Holdings, which operates more than 100 cash-and-carry stores and restaurant depots in America. He made his first fortune with a corn-milling business before moving into wholesale supermarkets and commercial property.
  • Kirsh’s son and daughter bought four apartments in Trump Tower in New York with a combined value of $56 million.

Douw Steyn and Family

  • Insurance
  • £900 million (2017: £850 million)
  • Aleksandr Orlov, the talking meerkat who stars in ads for price comparison website Comparethemarket.com, is better known in this country than South African entrepreneur Steyn, whose fortune has benefited from commission fees worth up to £80 per click from the site. It is part of the Peterborough-based BGL Group in which Steyn, 65, and his family have a majority stake. Plans for a float were shelved in November when a Canadian fund bought a 30% holding for £675 million.
  • Boasted no fewer than three former presidents — Bill Clinton, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela — at his 50th birthday party.

Manfred Gorvy and Family

  • Property and Food
  • £873 million
  • South African-born accountant Gorvy’s interests range from property and venture capital to African agriculture and Refresco, an independent soft drinks and fruit juice bottler. His Hanover Acceptances group, based in London, saw assets rise to more than £823 million in 2016, the Sunday Times said.

Sir Donald Gordon and Family

  • Property
  • £700 million (2017: £800 million)
  • South African-born Gordon’s, (87) main UK operation split in 2010 into Intu Properties and Capital & Counties Properties.

Mark Shuttleworth

  • Internet
  • £500 million (2017: £160 million)
  • “Shuttleworth’s wealth is soaring due to the success of his business Canonical, which uses the Ubuntu open-source software it developed to allow televisions, cars and other devices to connect to the web. Netflix, Tesla and Deutsche Telekom are among 800 clients of the London-based operation, whose sales are thought to have soared by 61% to more than £68 million in 2016.”
  • Shuttleworth, 44, who has dual South African and British nationality, has a fortune valued at $1 billion by Bloomberg.

Tony Tabatznik and Family

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • £500 million (no change)
  • South African-born Tabatznik, 70, sold his Stevenage business Arrow Generics to US firm Watson Pharmaceuticals for $1.75 billion. He had previously netted £200 million for his family’s Generics (UK) outfit.

Vivian Imerman

  • Spirits and Food
  • £390 million (2017: £390 million)
  • South African-born Imerman has been called the “the Man from Del Monte” after turning around the tinned fruit company and making £380 million from his share of the business, the Sunday Times said. He later took control of Whyte & Mackay, the Scottish whisky group, netting £396 million from its 2007 sale.
  • Imerman, 62, is currently in charge of London investment operation Vasari, “which has a holding in Leon, the restaurant chain co-founded by David Dimbleby’s son Henry”.

Richard Gnodde

  • Finance
  • £140 million (2017: £130 million)
  • South African-born Gnodde, 58, took over as CEO of Goldman Sachs International after the exit in 2016 of Michael Sherwood.
  • He and his wife Kara, 50, are trustees of Kew Gardens.

Meet the ultra-rich South Africans you’ve probably never heard of


Nine on the British Sunday Times Rich List of 2019 are South African – and of those, five are Jewish.     They are: Nathan Kirsh; Manfred Gorvy and family; Sir Donald Gordon and family; Tony Tabatznik and family; and Vivian Imerman.   The list is based on identifiable wealth including land, property, assets such as art, and company shares. It does not, however, take into account any funds contained in people’s bank accounts.

The 1 000 entrants collectively possess a combined wealth of £771.13 billion (R14.2 trillion) which is in fact an increase on last year’s total of £724 billion (R13.3 trillion), according to BusinessTech.

Coming in the top 5% is South African-born Swazi businessman Nathan Kirsh. Born in Potchefstroom in 1932, Kirsh earned a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). After assisting with the operation of his father’s malt factory, in 1958 he launched his own venture in Swaziland by founding a corn milling and malt business.

Moving into wholesale supermarkets and commercial property, Kirsh founded cash and carry store Jetro in Brooklyn, New York, in 1976. He owns 75% of Jetro Holdings, which operates more than 100 stores and restaurant depots in America. He resides in Swaziland, and holds citizenship of the United States, South Africa, and Swaziland.

Manfred Gorvy and his family rank 155th on the list. Today a London-based investor, Gorvy was born in South Africa in 1938, where he attended Parktown Boys High School and later received a Bachelor of Commerce from Wits.

After qualifying as an accountant in 1961, he served as secretary of property management company Townsview Estates for a time, where he crossed paths with late community doyen Gerald Leissner, who started his career at the company. In 1974, Gorvy founded Hanover Acceptances, a property and financial investment company and remains its chairperson today.

His philanthropic acumen is equally impressive. His refurbishment of a lecture theatre at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London resulted in it being renamed the Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre. Gorvy divides his time between London, where many of his businesses are based, and South Africa.

Coming in at number 230 is Sir Donald Gordon and family. An accountant by training, he was born in 1930, and founded life insurance company Liberty Life at 27. His savvy for numbers led him to build up two business empires, Liberty Life in South Africa, and United Kingdom property company Liberty International. The latter is one of the largest regional shopping centre companies in Europe.

In June 2005, he was awarded a knighthood in recognition of his services to the arts and business. He has also supported South Africa, helping to establish the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in 2000, as well as the Donald Gordon Medical Centre. He resides in London.

Toby Tabatznik made his mark on the pharmaceutical industry. His fortune was made by founding Arrow Generics in 2000, the successor to his family’s original pharmaceutical operation. Tabatznik sold the initial business to German giant Merck in the 1990s, and its successor to American-based Watson Pharmaceuticals in 2009.

He is passionate about social justice and is a philanthropist in causes to do with media, human rights law, and activism. In 2009, he founded the Bertha Foundation, which is geared towards creating more progressive and just societies and the battle for social change.

Vivian Imerman is the last South African on the list. He is considered the saviour of the American-based tinned-fruit company Del Monte. He made a fortune when he sold his share of the business. He repeated this success with Scottish whisky group Whyte & Mackay when he sold it in 2007.

Born in Johannesburg in 1955, Imerman’s grandfather was a Russian Jew who emigrated to South Africa after the Russian revolution. Although he did not complete his degree in business law, Imerman worked for his father’s chemical brokering business. He went on to found his own company by purchasing and reselling surplus chemicals.

He expanded the business into the distribution of branded pharmaceuticals, which was later listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 1987. He then expanded into food distribution.

His business successes enabled him to purchase Del Monte International in 1993, the value of which he tripled. He sold his stake in the fruit company in 1999, and moved to London. After his success in the whisky trade, he continues as chairman and chief executive of Del Monte.


  • The information in this article was taken from the Sunday Times, Bloomberg, SAentrepreneurs, BusinessTech, IMDB and the Telegraph.

Een gedagte oor “Ultra-rich South Africans”

  1. […] The UK’s Sunday Times Rich List for 2018 shows that the country’s wealthiest 1,000 people saw their combined fortune rise to £724 billion, up 10% from a record £658 billion in 2017.    The paper noted that as many as 94% of the 1,000 wealthiest people built their own fortunes. Inherited wealth and old money have been all but banished from the 30th annual list. Ultra-rich South Africans […]


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