DANGOTE NAMED AFRICA’S FIRST $20BN MAN

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Dangote, the president/chief executive of the pan-African conglomerate, the Dangote Group, has become the first African entrepreneur to lay claim to a $20 billion fortune as the stock value of the flagship of his holdings, Dangote Cement, leaped just about three-fourths since March, when Forbes last released its annual ranking of the world’s richest people.

The latest ranking of Dangote as the 25th richest person is significant as it is an improvement on his previous position of 43rd as at March 2013.

With a current market capitalisation of $20.5 billion, Dangote Cement becomes the first Nigerian company to achieve a market capitalization of over $20 billion.

The world-renowned business and financial intelligence newsmagazine, the Forbes, has reported that Dangote’s 93 per cent stake in the cement company is now worth $19.5 billion.

Added to this are his controlling stakes in other publicly-listed companies like Dangote Sugar and National Salt Company of Nigeria and his significant shareholdings in other blue-chips like Zenith Bank, UBA Group and Dangote Flour; his extensive real estate portfolio, jets, yachts and current cash position, which includes more than $300 million in recently awarded Dangote Cement.  Dangote is now worth more than $20 billion.

To put it in the right context, the Forbes reported that the Nigerian billionaire is now among the top 25 richest people in the world. With his fortune, Dangote is richer than Russia’s richest man, Alisher Usmanov, richer than India’s Lakshmi Mittal and running neck to neck with India’s Mukesh Ambani. He is catching up to such Americans as Google’s billionaire founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Dangote Cement had recorded an unprecedented surge in its share price largely due to market response to the company’s impressive results in the first quarter of this year.

The cement manufacturer’s unaudited results for the three months ending March 31 had showed that the company’s pre-tax profit rose to $339 million, representing an 80.6% increase from last year and a strong indicator of the company’s future earning potential. The results also indicate a 79.5 % rise in its earnings per share over the corresponding period last year.

Carl Franklin, Dangote Cement’s head of investor relations in the UK, was quoted to have explained the company’s share boost, in an email response to Forbes that, in the first quarter of 2013, the company had a huge increase in demand across Nigeria, gas supply improved considerably and the capacity was much more ramped up.

“So Q1 was the first sign of just how profitable we can be in Nigeria. The amazing thing is that 66% of our gas-fired production in Q1 was done at 84% gas. Imagine what would happen to margins if we did the same amount at 95%. This has given investors a good sense of what we can really do when everything goes in the right direction,” Franklin said.

“It’s certainly a landmark for a Nigerian company and we’re proud to be the first to achieve it. Obviously we are focusing on building long-term and sustainable value for shareholders through our investments in Nigeria and Africa. Nigeria is a very entrepreneurial country and I can assure you that other companies will follow us in achieving this.”

Forbes in its report reasoned that other companies might eventually achieve this, but it’s going to take a bit of time. Dangote Cement currently accounts for more than a quarter of the total market capitalization of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The second largest company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) is currently Nigerian Breweries, West Africa’s largest manufacturer of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The company has a market cap of $8.5 billion.

Dangote debuted on the Forbes billionaires list in 2008 with a fortune pegged at $3.3 billion. His fortune dropped to $2.5 billion in 2009 and plunged further to $2.1 billion in 2010. His fortune surged 557% in 2011 to $13.8 billion after he took Dangote Cement public. He dropped to $11.2 billion in last year’s rankings, but rebounded at $16.1 billion this year. Since March, his fortune has jumped another 30%.

Dangote started building his fortune over three decades ago after taking a loan from Sanusi Dantata and started trading in commodities like flour, sugar and cement.

He became a billionaire after delving into manufacturing these items. He started making pasta, salt, sugar and flour in 1997. But he found his goldmine in cement, when he was awarded a government’s state-owned cement business in 2000 and began building his own plant in 2003. He listed Dangote Cement in 2010.

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Today, it is Africa’s largest cement company providing cement to Nigeria and other African countries that otherwise would likely have to pay to import much of the materials.

The Forbes believes that Dangote still has bigger ambitions. He reportedly told Forbes wealth editor Luisa Kroll at Davos in 2011 that he expected his firm to have a market cap of $60 billion within five years. At $20.5 billion, Dangote Cement still has a long way to go to live up to that dream, and while it is quite unlikely that Dangote Cement could hit a $60 billion market cap by 2016, don’t write it off as ‘impossible’. With Dangote, you never know.

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