This South African just lost his ‘billionaire status’ thanks to the latest coronavirus market crash

South Africa now has a mere four billionaires ranked among the global elite tracked by Forbes, after the coronavirus market crash led to yet another dismal day on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

South Africa’s benchmark stock index plummeted the most on record after president Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration of a national state of disaster over the coronavirus outbreak stoked investor concern about its impact on an already fragile economy, Bloomberg reported.

The president announced tough measures Sunday to stem the spread of the virus locally, including halting flights and shutting schools, and said the government was finalizing a crisis package.

In his weekly open letter to South Africa on Monday (16 March), president Cyril Ramaphosa warned that the coronavirus will be extremely disruptive and will likely cause damage to the economy.

“We have to address the inevitable economic fallout. We must expect a decline in exports, a drop in tourist arrivals and a severe impact on production, business viability and job creation and retention,” he said.

An emergency cut in the US Federal Reserve rate, as well as those by other central banks to try to stem the impact of the virus, only accelerated the sell-off sweeping through global equities. The FTSE/JSE Africa All-Share Index sank 12%, before recovering somewhat to trade at 40,819 (-7.60%) points.

“The JSE is taking cues from global markets which will also be reacting to the US Fed cut that only increased fear,” Nolwandle Mthombeni, an analyst at Mergence Investment Managers, toldBloomberg. “There additionally will be some local investors worried about our economy after the president’s speech last night.”

Capitec co-founder, Michiel le Roux, who at the start of last week was still listed among the world’s billionaires with a net worth of $1.1 billion, has now fallen off the global ranking, as a result of the crash.

Shares in Capitec, like all other stocks on the JSE, fell again sharply on Monday (16 March), down more than 6% on the day.

Le Roux is not the only South African multi-millionaire feeling the effects of the spreading virus.

After the initial market crash on 9 March – the first major global market panic about the coronavirus pandemic – South Africa’s then-five billionaires lost R6 billion in their collective net worth, according to Forbes.

By the end of the week, on another major market dip, they lost a further R14 billion.

By Monday, 16 March, as markets once again crumbled as the coronavirus panic continued to outplay various governments’ rate cuts and stimulus packages to counter the crash, the four remaining South African billionaires saw their combined net worth fall by a further R8.2 billion.

Billionaire Wealth Change %
Johann Rupert $4.7 billion -$273 million -5.5%
Patrice Motsepe $1.5 billion -$120 million -7.4%
Koos Bekker $2.0 billion -$95 million -4.4%
Nicky Oppenheimer $7.5 billion -$15 million -0.2%
Michiel le Roux <$1.0 billion
Total -$503 million

Because Forbes’ tracking shows daily changes, it is difficult to gauge the overall impact of the market crash on billionaires’ net worth every day.

Taking daily ups and downs into account over the last week, however, we can see South Africa’s five richest people have seen their collective net worth decline by more than $1.8 billion (R30 billion).

The table below, however, shows how South Africa’s richest have seen their wealth change over the last week alone.

Billionaire Wealth 9 March Wealth 16 March Decrease %
Johann Rupert $5.6 billion $4.7 billion ~$900 million -16.1%
Patrice Motsepe $1.9 billion $1.5 billion ~$400 million -21.1%
Koos Bekker $2.3 billion $2.0 billion ~$300 million -13.0%
Nicky Oppenheimer $7.6 billion $7.5 billion ~$100 million -1.3%
Michiel le Roux $1.1 billion <$1 billion ~$100 million -9.0%
Total lost ~$1.8 billion

Read: South Africa’s super rich lose R14 billion in latest coronavirus market panic

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