Femi Otedola Re-enters Billionaire Ranks as Global Wealth Surges to $14.2 Trillion

Forbes’ 38th Annual World’s Billionaires List recognizes Africa’s top billionaire. Christo Wiese of South Africa stole the show last year, returning to the Forbes Richest list after a four-year sabbatical owing to the Steinhoff accounting crisis. This year, Nigerian billionaire Femi Otedola steals the show for the continent, marking a significant return to the global billionaires club.

Otedola, chairman of Geregu Power, a significant power generation firm, and Nigeria’s most valuable lender, First Bank of Nigeria Holdings Plc (FBN Holdings), has returned after a seven-year absence. During his break, he systematically reorganized his portfolio, starting with selling shares in Forte Oil, the successor to African Petroleum, to focus on the energy sector. This led to Geregu Power being Nigeria’s first publicly traded utility company.

His wide asset portfolio includes offshore funds, foreign real estate, holdings in Nigeria’s main banks (FBN Holdings and Zenith Bank), and recent investments in Dangote Cement, Africa’s largest cement maker. His wealth has reached $1.7 billion. This places him among Africa’s wealthiest persons and earns him a spot on Forbes’ yearly billionaire list.

With Otedola’s return to the billionaire rankings, Africa currently has twenty billionaires, up from 19 in 2023 and 18 in 2022. Forbes has recognized an unprecedented 2,781 billionaires this year, up 141 over last year and breaking the previous record of 26 billionaires set in 2021.

The global ultra-wealthy now have a total net worth of $14.2 trillion, a record high. This is a $2 trillion gain over last year and surpasses the previous high of $13.1 trillion, established in 2021.

Aliko Dangote is still the undisputed African heavyweight champion. His $15 billion fortune is mostly derived from his 86% interest in Dangote Cement, which recently welcomed Femi Otedola as a new shareholder.

For the second year running, Bernard Arnault is the world’s richest person. The French luxury goods magnate’s net worth has risen to an estimated $233 billion, a $22 billion increase driven by another strong year for LVMH, his conglomerate that owns powerful brands such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., and Sephora.

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