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EXPLAINER: Why Dangote is only African on Bloomberg’s 100 billionaires list

To the surprise of many Nigerians and Africans, only one man from the continent made it to the list of Bloomberg’s billionaire index released recently.…

To the surprise of many Nigerians and Africans, only one man from the continent made it to the list of Bloomberg’s billionaire index released recently.

Bloomberg, a privately owned international financial, data and media company which is headquartered in New York City, said only Aliko Dangote passed its criteria to be listed among the latest ‘Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index compiles the rankings of the world’s richest people.

According to the latest ranking by Bloomberg, the Chairman of Aliko Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, is now the 63rd billionaire in the world.

However, Nigerians and other Africans have been wondering why Dangote is the only person that made it to the list despite a large number of billionaires the continent boasts of.

Africa has an estimated 18 billionaires spread across the east, west, south and northern parts of the continent.

In its billionaire list released in February this year, Forbes Magazine said the 18 billionaires are now worth an estimated $84.9 billion, which represents a 15 per cent increase from a year ago and the largest tally since 2015.

The reasons behind the increase in their wealth include soaring stock prices, which jacked up the fortunes of the tycoons, as demand for products and services from telecom to luxury goods ticked up.

Although Dangote is the richest man in Africa, there are other high-ranking billionaires on the continent, including the likes of Johann Rupert (South Africa) whose major investments are in the fashion and retail industry as well as Nicki Oppenheimer (another South African) who invests in the mining and metal industry.

Others are Nassef Sawiris (Egypt), whose investments are in the construction sector; Abdulsamad Rabiu (Nigeria) with investments in Cement and Sugar; and Mike Adenuga (Nigeria), with investments in telecommunication as well as the oil and gas sector, among many other Nigerians.

Consequently, Daily Trust  on Sunday checks have shown that four major factors were considered by Bloomberg in drawing up the ranking, which are; personal net worth, value of publicly traded companies, transparency in disclosures and up-to-date records of a company’s activities.

Net worth

One of the criteria used in the ranking was calculating the individual’s total net worth. 

In the calculation, Daily Trust  on Sunday observed that each individual billionaire’s profile carried a detailed analysis of how his/her fortune is tallied.

According to Bloomberg, “The index is a dynamic measure of personal wealth based on changes in markets, the economy and Bloomberg reporting. Each net worth figure is updated every business day after the close of trading in New York. Stakes in publicly traded companies are valued using the share’s most recent closing price. Valuations are converted to US dollars at current exchange rates.”

This is just as the value of closely held companies adjusts daily based on market moves for peer companies or by applying the market movement of a relevant industry index.

The criteria used to choose peer companies were also based on the closely held asset’s industry and size.

The international media conglomerate further stated that net worth calculations include dividend income paid and proceeds from the sale of public and closely held shares. 

Taxes are deducted based on the prevailing income, dividend and capital gains tax rates in a billionaire’s country of residence. Taxes are applied at the highest rate unless there is evidence to support a lower percentage, in which case an explanation is given in the net worth summary. For calculations of cash and other investable assets, a hybrid return based on holdings in cash, government bonds, equities and commodities is applied.

Value of publicly traded companies

Another factor in determining who made the list, as observed by Daily Trust on Sunday was the value of publicly traded companies.

For instance, in the case of Aliko Dangote, Dangote Cement and Sugar are listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) and trade on a daily basis.

In its explanation, Bloomberg said, “When ownership of closely held assets cannot be verified, they aren’t included in the calculations. The specific valuation methodology for each closely held company is included in the net worth analysis section of a billionaire’s profile. 

“Additional details included in the valuation notes for each asset are available to subscribers of the Bloomberg Professional Service.”

It added that “A standard liquidity discount of 5 per cent is applied to most closely held companies where assets may be hard to sell. When a different percentage is used, an explanation is given. No liquidity discounts are applied to the values of public stakes. 

In some instances, a country risk discount is also applied based on a person’s concentration of assets and the ease of selling them in a given geography. A country’s risk is assessed based on Standard & Poor’s sovereign debt ratings.

“If a billionaire has pledged as collateral shares he or she holds in a public company, the value of those shares or the value of a loan taken against them is removed from the net worth calculation. If reliable information can be obtained about the ultimate use of those borrowed funds, that value is added back into the calculation.

“Hedge fund businesses are valued using the average market capitalisation-to-assets under management ratios of the most comparable publicly traded funds. Fee income is not considered because it cannot be uniformly verified. Personal funds invested along with outside capital are not included in the calculation.” 

Transparency in disclosures

A further look at the criteria used by Bloomberg showed that rankings were also based on transparency in company ownership disclosures by individual billionaires.

This, according to the firm, is because family members often hold a portion of a billionaire’s assets. 

It explained that “Such transfers don’t change the nature of who ultimately controls the fortune. As a result, Bloomberg News operates under the rule that all billionaire fortunes are inherently family fortunes and credit family fortunes to the founders or ranking family members who are determined to have direct control over the assets. 

“When individual stakes can be verified and adult family members have an active role in a business, the value is credited to each individual,” accordingly.

“Each billionaire, or a representative, is given an opportunity to respond to questions regarding the net worth calculation, including assets and liabilities, as the majority of the individual’s fortune is held in publicly traded companies and/or valuations for personal assets can be verified. The billionaires or their representatives provide feedback on the net worth calculation.”

Furthermore, Bloomberg argued that a majority of the individual’s fortune is held in publicly traded companies or in closely held operations that publish transparent information. 

“The billionaire may control listed assets through a holding company in which ownership is not fully transparent, or have partnerships and structures that require calculated assumptions of ownership,” it said.

Updated company records

The Bloomberg Billionaire index also evaluated the up-to-date records of companies owned by these billionaires.

Bloomberg said each net worth calculation is updated every business day at 5.30pm at its headquarters in New York.

It added that stakes in publicly traded companies are valued using the share’s most recent closing price while valuations are converted to US dollars at current exchange rates.


Africa’s richest man and Chairman of Aliko Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, according to the latest ranking by Bloomberg, is now the 63rd richest man in the world.

According to the ranking, the Chief Executive Officer of Tesla, Elon Musk, remains the richest man in the world.

Other billionaires on the list are Jeff Bezos, Bernard Arnault, Bill Gates, Gautam Adani, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Warren Buffett, Steve Ballmer, and Larry Ellison.

Dangote, who moved up 37 places on the recent Bloomberg billionaire list, is said to be worth $20.2 billion.

He owns 85 per cent of publicly-traded Dangote Cement through a holding company.

Dangote Cement produces 48.6 million metric tons annually, with operations in 10 countries across Africa currently. 

Similarly, Dangote’s fertiliser plant in Nigeria began operations in mid-2021, while the Dangote Refinery has been under construction since 2016 and is expected to be one of the world’s largest oil refineries once completed by the end of 2022, as projected by the company.

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