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Africa’s first Black billionaire Patrice Motsepe lost $600 million in 2023

Motsepe remains JSE’s richest individual investor amid industry headwinds

by Omokolade Ajayi

In a challenging year defined by a significant drop in the basket price of platinum group metals (PGMs), Patrice Motsepe, Africa’s pioneering Black billionaire, experienced a substantial decline in his wealth

The decline, amounting to $600 million throughout the year, is closely tied to the sustained downturn in the market value of his 40.37-percent stake in African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), a South African mining powerhouse with a diverse portfolio of iron, coal, copper, gold, platinum, and other precious metals.

Motsepe, who became Africa’s first Black billionaire in 2008 through a fortune amassed in the mining industry, witnessed his net worth plummet from $3.2 billion at the start of 2023 to $2.6 billion at the time of this report, according to data tracked by U.S. business magazine Forbes.

The $600-million year-to-date wealth loss is primarily attributed to the performance of ARM’s stock price on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), with ARM shares declining by more than 30 percent in 2023.

The slump in market value is a consequence of the challenges faced by the leading mining group, including rail logistics problems, reduced production levels, and weaker commodity prices, resulting in disappointing financial performance.

The decline in ARM’s shares aligns with the broader trend of the PGM basket price, which has fallen by approximately 40 percent during 2023 — raising concerns about the long-term sustainability of mining operations, with several mines experiencing significant cash losses.

Motsepe remains JSE’s richest individual investor amid industry headwinds

Despite the setbacks, Motsepe remains the richest individual investor on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and holds the position of the richest Black billionaire in South Africa and the broader Southern African region.

However, the challenges in the mining industry, reflected in ARM’s profit, which fell by more than 35 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023, from R14.36 billion ($750.8 million) to R9.32 billion ($487.3 million), underscore the volatility and uncertainties facing even the most affluent players in the sector.

ARM’s earnings decline prompted a substantial cut in the final dividend, dropping from R20 ($1.046) per share in the prior fiscal year to R12 ($0.63) per share. Motsepe, holding a 40.37 percent stake in ARM, received a reduced final dividend of R1.088 billion ($56.5 million).

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