Friday, 24 May 2013
Cement King: How Aliko Dangote Wangled His Way To Billionaires' List
With his fortune roaring upwards from $2.1 billion to $13.8 billion in the short space of a year, Nigerian entrepreneur Aliko Dangote has bounded up the heights of the Forbes magazine’s billionaire’s list.
In his stupendous rise, Mr. Dangote has elbowed aside talk show hostess Oprah Winfrey, Facebook owner Mike Zuckerberg, and American real estate mogul Donald Trump, among others.
Or as the Forbes chroniclers of the world’s richest people like to point out, he’s now richer than the richest white South Africans – namely Nicky Oppenheimer of Debeers and Johann Rupert of the luxury goods group, Richemont which owns Cartier, Dunhill and other premium brands.
The Kano-born Dangote was a commodity trader, but he obtained his massive wealth during the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo who encouraged the sell-off of state-owned corporations, presidential aircraft and government properties to Dangote and other questionable businessmen. Essentially, Dangote’s wealth is the equivalent of 7% of Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Manipulating his unfettered access to those in the seat of political power in Nigeria, Mr. Dangote seized virtually full possession of the cement market and swept up some of the highest import quotas of all local companies. He also received lavish import and export waivers from the Obasanjo, Yar’adua and now Jonathan regimes.
Mr. Dangote’s style has been to ignore allegations of cement price-fixing, over-inflated IPOs and resale of Broadband licences.
Apart from his generous handouts from various regimes, the 53-year-old Dangote also serves on government boards and operatives within shady political campaign groups that raise unrestricted funds for presidential campaigns and elections.
In 2009, Mr. Dangote was involved in a share manipulation scam involving African Petroleum (AP) Plc, a company owned by Femi Otedola, his alter ego and erstwhile friend. Mr. Otedola accused Dangote of precipitating a sharp drop in the shares of AP in order to erase Mr. Otedola from the Forbes billionaires’ roster.
The ambitious Dangote says he expects his firm to have a market cap of $60 billion within five years. Mr. Dangote is currently on Mr. Goodluck Jonathan's Presidential Campaign Council.
Meanwhile, last year’s billionaire-banker, Mike Adenuga, has fallen to 595th place in the Forbes list.
Mr. Dangote is set to turn a few heads with his brand-new Bombardier Global Express XRS private jet that seats 8. Price tag? A mere $45 million.