SA entrepreneur Christo Wiese set to overtake Sir Richard Branson on UK Sunday Times rich list

EDINBURGH: South African entrepreneur Christo Wiese continues to make his mark among the world’s wealthiest, most successful business operators. This weekend, his name appeared close to Sir Richard Branson on the annual Sunday Times Rich List, according to UK media reports. Where Britain’s poster child for entrepreneurship Branson is flamboyant and loud-mouthed, Wiese likes to keep a low profile. He has quietly built his empire through acquisitions as well as organically. Christo Wiese’s first big move in business was building Pepkor in South Africa. Lately, his attentions have focused on global growth, a strategy that is clearly paying off despite geopolitical uncertainties. The Sunday Times Rich List is compiled annually. The media company’s survey finds that there are 134 billionaires based in Britain, led by Sri and Gopi Hinduja, with the wealth of the Indian-born brothers put at £16.2bn — up £3.2bn from last year. Christo Wiese’s wealth is estimated at over £4bn. – Jackie Cameron

Christo Wiese, billionaire and chairman of Steinhoff Holdings NV. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

What the world is saying about Christo Wiese

Business Insider

24. Christo Wiese

Net worth: £4.62 billion

Age: 75

South African retail mogul Christo Wiese was a newcomer to The Sunday Times Rich List last year, thanks to his range of investments in retail and property.

His active-property portfolio is alone worth £80 million and he has large stakes in seven publicly traded companies. He is also the largest single shareholder in Africa’s biggest retailer, Shoprite, and in 2015 he bought the New Look fashion chain in Britain.

23. Sir Richard Branson

Net worth: £4.865 billion

Age: 66

Richard Branson

Branson is Britain’s poster child for entrepreneurship. He built his Virgin empire, which comprises 400 companies, from the age of 16. His group now does everything from mobiles to banking to aviation and even, potentially, space travel. He’s known for his sense of humour and once pulled an extreme April Fools’ Day prank on a coworker — and got arrested.

Bloomberg

Wiese, South Africa’s third-richest man, turned to the UK after building his fortune largely at home. Born in rural Northern Cape province in 1941, he eventually built Pepkor Ltd. into Africa’s biggest clothing chain when he sold it to Steinhoff International Holdings NV in 2014. Along the way, he picked up a game reserve in the Kalahari desert and 4,000-acre (1,618 hectare) wine estate outside Cape Town, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

What Forbes says about Christo Wiese

Christoffel Wiese built a retail empire by capitalizing on bargain prices in South Africa, and has expanded its geographic footprint. In December 2015, Wiese’s furniture and home goods retailer Steinhoff moved its listing from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange to focus on the European market. In August 2016, Steinhoff entered the U.S. market, announcing plans to buy Mattress Firm Holding Corp., which owns Sleepy’s, a chain with 1,000 mattress stores, for $2.4 billion. His other investments include 15% of publicly-traded Shoprite Holdings, which has supermarkets, furniture stores and fast food outlets in 15 countries across Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands; and stakes in private equity firm Brait, industrial products company Invicta Holdings and mining-sector investor Pallinghurst.

Also see: Christo Wiese, SA’s richest man: Baffled by Brexit, but still betting on UK – for now

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