How Patrice Motsepe made his billions

Patrice Tlhopane Motsepe has built a tremendous business empire, making him South Africa’s first and only black dollar billionaire and one of the most influential businessmen in the country.

According to Forbes, he has a net worth of $2.5 billion (R47.3 billion) and is currently Africa’s ninth richest person. 

Motsepe made most of his money through his mining company, African Rainbow Minerals, which he launched in 1997. 

His father, Augustine, was a successful liquor distributor and spaza shop owner in Hammanskraal, a town just north of Pretoria. 

Motsepe worked at his father’s store, where he was first exposed to mining through the mineworkers who bought goods at the spaza shop. 

Due to his father’s opposition to Apartheid’s segregated schooling systems, Motsepe was sent to a Roman Catholic boarding school in the Eastern Cape along with his six siblings. 

He would go on to attain a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Swaziland and an LLB from the University of the Witwatersrand. 

Motsepe joined the law firm Bowman Gilfillan in 1988 and rose to be the firm’s first black partner in 1993, specialising in mining and business law. 

After South Africa’s democratic transition, Motsepe left law to work in the mining industry. 

Motsepe and mining 

Two-Rivers Mine, owned by ARM

Motsepe believed he could use management techniques, particularly low base pay with production incentives, to transform less-productive shafts into profitable operations. 

In 1994, he founded Future Mining, a mining services company which specialised in turning around unprofitable mining shafts. 

African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) was launched by Motsepe in 1997 and was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 2002. 

It merged with Harmony Gold and acquired Anglovaal Mining’s unproductive mines in 2003. 

After this merger, Motsepe took up the role of executive chairman of ARM – a position he holds to this day. 

In 2002, Motsepe was voted South Africa’s Business Leader of the Year by the chief executive officers of the top 100 companies in South Africa. 

In the same year, he was the winner of the Ernst & Young Best Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

The success of ARM catapulted Motsepe onto Forbes’ billionaire list in 2005.

Capitalising on BEE

Ubuntu-Botho Investments (UBI), Motsepe’s investment vehicle, acquired a significant stake in Sanlam as the insurer’s black empowerment partner in 2004. 

Reports from the time note that Motsepe had a difficult decision in choosing between partnering with Sanlam or Old Mutual as an empowerment partner. 

Sanlam won Motsepe by pointing out that Old Mutual had effectively run away from South Africa and moved its headquarters and primary listing to London. Sanlam said that it would never leave the country. 

As of 2022, UBI owns 17.8% of Africa’s largest non-banking financial services group, and Motsepe is currently deputy chairman of Sanlam. 

Sanlam claims the empowerment deal to have created R15 billion net value for Ubuntu-Botho investors, placing it in the top five empowerment deals in terms of value created. 

The deal created 700 black millionaires, according to Sanlam. 

African Rainbow Capital and other ventures

In 2016, Motsepe launched African Rainbow Capital (ARC) as a listed investment holding company. Its holdings include major stakes in Rain and Tyme Bank. 

The success of ARM in the early 2000s enabled Motsepe to purchase 51% of Mamelodi Sundowns in 2003, acquiring the football club outright a year later. 

Motsepe acquired a share in the Blue Bulls Company in 2019 and is a joint-owner with Johann Rupert’s Remgro and the Blue Bulls Rugby Union. 

He also has a history of philanthropy, being the first African to sign the Bill Gates and Warren Buffett giving pledge in 2013. This means that half of his wealth will be given to charity. 

The Motsepe Foundation was founded in 1999 to tackle poverty and unemployment in South Africa. 

In March 2021, Motsepe was elected as the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) – a position he still holds.


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