• The world's richest are $5 trillion richer than they were one year ago, according to Forbes.
  • Executives like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bernard Arnault all saw massive gains amid the pandemic.
  • All five of South Africa's dollar billionaires also saw their wealth grow in 2020.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

2020 was a great year for the world's billionaires.

That's according to Forbes, which released its annual billionaires list on Tuesday. Forbes found that the world's wealthiest people, many of whom are recognisable as the top names in the business world, are $5 trillion richer than they were one year ago. In South Africa, all five of the local billionaires saw their wealth grow.

Across the world, there were also 493 new billionaires forged in the last year, a new one every 17 hours on average, Forbes found. In total, Forbes' list includes 2,755 billionaires.

South Africa's five dollar billionaires:

Nicky Oppenheimer (and family)

Oppenheimer is worth $8 billion and number 302 on the list. The 75-year-old's wealth grew by $600 million over the past year. He is the former chairman of De Beers diamond mining company, and deputy chairman of Anglo American, a company founded by his grandfather. 

The Oppenheimer family sold their 40% stake in De Beers to Anglo for $5.1 billion in cash in 2012.

Johann Rupert (and family)

15 October 2008. South Africa. Gauteng. Pretoria.
Johann Rupert

Rupert is worth $7.6 billion and is number 334 on the Forbes list. Rupert's net wealth grew by $2.5 billion over the past year. This is despite the pandemic's big impact on the sales of Richemont. Rupert (70) founded the Swiss-based Richemont out of the Remgro group, which was established by his father Anton Rupert. The Richemont group today owns brands like Montblanc and Cartier.

Rupert is also chair of Remgro, which has stakes in Mediclinic, Distell, FirstRand and many other companies in SA.

Patrice Motsepe

Patrice Motsepe (Getty)

Motsepe is worth more than $3 billion and number 1,000 on the list. The 59-year-old former lawyer's wealth doubled over the past year - growing by $1.5 billion since April 2020. 

Motsepe, the owner of Mamelodi Sundowns and the new president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), founded the mining company African Rainbow Minerals. He also established African Rainbow Capital Investments (ARC Investments), which owns a majority stake in TymeBank.

Koos Bekker

Koos Bekker. Photo: Lerato Maduna

Bekker is worth $3 billion and is number 1,016 on the Forbes list. Bekker's wealth grew by $1 billion last year.

Bekker (68) chairs the Naspers and Prosus boards. He was a founder member of the M-Net/MultiChoice pay-television business, as well as of the MTN Group. He is a former CEO of Naspers. 

Michiel Le Roux

Michiel le Roux

Le Roux is worth $1.2 billion and number 2,197. The 71-year-old Le Roux hasn't been on the Forbes dollar billionaire list since 2019. 

Le Roux founded Capitec Bank in 2001 and still owns an 11% stake, according to Forbes. He retired as chairman in 2016, but still serves on the board.

Here's how the world's five richest billionaires fared in 2020:

  • Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO, saw his fortune grow from $113 billion in 2020 to $177 billion in 2021
  • Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, saw his net worth rise from $24.6 billion in 2020 to $151 billion in 2021
  • Bernard Arnault, the CEO of LVMH, saw his wealth rise from $76 billion in 2020 to $150 billion in 2021
  • Bill Gates, the cofounder of Microsoft, saw his fortune grow from $98 billion in 2020 to $124 billion in 2021
  • Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, saw his net worth rise from $54.7 billion in 2020 to $97 billion in 2021

In the case of Bezos, for example, skyrocketing demand for Amazon's goods and services during the pandemic fuelled his wealth gains; for Musk, Tesla's soaring stock price boosted his fortune to new heights, allowing him to jockey with Bezos for the title of world's richest person.

These staggering jumps in wealth for the world's richest came amid a period of economic uncertainty and job losses for millions of people. 

Compiled by Avery Hartmans and BI South Africa

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