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‘Kings of Booze’: 11 African millionaires who have made a fortune in alcohol

Meet 11 African tycoons, who have built multimillion-dollar fortunes by manufacturing alcoholic beverages.

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Nigerian businessman Ola Rosiji.

“Always remember, that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.”

Those were Winston Churchill’s words, but the 11 African alcohol entrepreneurs on this list can probably relate.  For while most of us celebrate making money with a stiff drink, these inspiring businessmen have through a stiff drink made money.

Meet 11 extremely successful African tycoons, who have built multimillion-dollar fortunes by manufacturing alcoholic beverages.

1. Ola Rosiji

Country: Nigeria

Ola Rosiji is the chairman of Lexcel group, a Nigerian conglomerate that owns Nigeria Distilleries Limited (NDL). His late father, Ayo Rosiji, founded NDL in 1973 to import distilled spirits. After creating its own research and development department, NDL started developing its own formulation and processes for a variety of alcoholic drinks such as schnapps and gin. In 1999, NDL started manufacturing its own beverages. Today, NDL is the largest indigenous producer of wines and spirits in Nigeria. The company manufactures popular Nigerian alcoholic brands like Seaman Schnapps, Bacchus Tonic wine, Calypso Coconut Liquor, Dark sailor sum, Regal and Lords’ Dry Gin.

2. Said Boujbel

Country: Tunisia

Tunisian businessman Said Boujbel made his fortune distributing alcoholic beverages in his home country and developing hotels. In 2006, his beverage distribution company, Societe de Production et de Distribution des Boissons SA (SPDB), partnered with Heineken NV to construct a brewery to manufacture the Heineken brand in Tunisia. The brewery commenced operations in 2008 and became a raving success. In 2018, Boujbel sold his controlling stake in the brewery to Heineken.

3. Tabitha Karanja

Country: Kenya

In 1997, Tabitha Karanja and her husband founded Keroche Industries to produce fortified wines for low-income earning rural farmers. The company has since grown into the second largest alcoholic beverages producer in Kenya – just after Diageo-controlled East African Breweries Limited. The company produces beers, ready-to-drink vodkas, wines and spirits.

4. Alan Murungi

Country: Kenya

Alan Murungi’s father was Wilfred Murungi, a storied Kenyan multimillionaire businessman who made his fortune in the tobacco business by founding Mastermind Kenya, the largest indigenous cigarette manufacturing company in Kenya. In 2006, Alan, with an investment from his father, established one of the earliest microbreweries in Nairobi. Upon its success, he decided to mass produce his own line of beers under the Sierra Premium brand. Sierra Premium beer comprises the Sierra Amber, Sierra Blonde and Sierra Porter brands, which are very successful in Kenya today.  

5. Humphrey Kariuki

Country: Kenya

The Kenyan billionaire is the founder of Africa Spirits, a Kenyan alcoholic beverages manufacturer. African Spirits Limited product categories include vodka, brandy and gin. Its more popular brands include Bluemoon Vodka, Legend Brandy, Furaha Brandy, Furaha Gin and Gypsy King Gin. The company has been shut down since 2019 over a series of allegations bordering on tax fraud and the smuggling of ethanol of questionable quality. Kariuki has maintained his innocence. Kariuki also has business interests in energy distribution, power and real estate.

6. Sina Gerard

Country: Rwanda

The Rwandan tycoon is most popular for being the founder of Akabanga, the world- famous hot chili oil. However, his company, Sina Gerard/Ese Urwibutso, also manufactures a range of bestselling alcoholic wines and traditional beers that sell across East Africa.

7. Kwabena Adjei

Country: Ghana

Kwabena Adjei is the founder of Kasapreko Indutries, a local liquor manufacturing giant. Founded in 1989, Kasapreko is best known for Alomo Bitters ­ a herbal based alcoholic drink. Kasapreko also manufacturers other brands such as Ogidigidi Bitters, Opeimu Bitters and Cardinal Liqueur.

8-11. Phillip, Hennie, Bussell and Neil Retief (Four Cousins)

Country: South Africa

Phillip Retief is the CEO of Van Loveren Family Vineyards, South Africa’s leading family-owned winery. The company traces its roots to 1937, when his grandfather Hennie Retief purchased the Van Loveren farm near Robertson in the Western Cape. Phillip’s own father, Wynand, and his brother, Nico Retief, started making wine for wholesale and bottling it themselves in the 1960s, eventually creating the famed “Van Loveren” wine brand in 1980. In 2000, Philip Retief, a third-generation Retief winemaker, partnered with his three cousins, Hennie, Bussell and Neil Retief, to launch the “Four Cousins” range of wines. Today, it is the top-selling bottled wine in South Africa.

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Namibian tycoon Quinton van Rooyen’s Trustco wins round in court against JSE

Shares in the group rose 35.56 percent as a result.

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Quinton van Rooyen.

Trustco Group, an investment holding majority owned by Namibian businessman Quinton van Rooyen and his family, has won a round in court against the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

The Pretoria High Court ruled that the company may not be suspended from the JSE until the hearing of its review application in September.

The presiding judge, Nicoline Janse van Nieuwenhuizen, pre-dismissed every argument made against Trustco. The judge issued a decision, in which she ordered the JSE to be interdicted and restrained from suspending Trustco shares from trading on the local bourse.

“The grounds of review are all deserving of a proper hearing in due course, and I am satisfied that Trustco has asserted a prima facie right to fair and just administrative action,” she said in her decision.

In response to the news, shares in the group rose 35.56 percent to R0.61 ($0.0367), from a price of R0.45 ($0.0271) at the start of trading this morning.

The increase in Trustco’s share price pushed its market capitalization above R985 million ($60 million) and the value of van Rooyen’s 63.94-percent stake above R630 million ($38 million).

The court also prohibited the JSE from implementing or attempting to implement the decision that Trustco restate its annual financial statements for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019, as well as the interim results for the six months ending Sept. 30, 2019.

The legal battle between Trustco and the JSE began on Nov. 11, 2020, when the exchange’s authorities claimed that the company had not met the listing requirements for its 2019 annual financial statements and 2020 interim results.

As part of the allegations, the JSE accused Trustco of violating international accounting standards by misrepresenting features of two loans and reclassifying land that it owns.

Trustco questioned the JSE’s authority to order corporations to amend their financial statements. It claimed that only boards have that authority and stated that all transactions had been “exactly accounted for, reported, and disclosed.”

Amid the legal battle between Trustco and the JSE, wary local bourse investors sold their stakes in the company, fearing a potential delisting of its shares, which caused the share price to crash to an all-time low in July before rebounding recently by double digits.

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Ugandan tycoon Charles Mbire to pocket $1.15-million interim dividend from MTN Uganda

Mbire owns a significant 3.98-percent stake in the Ugandan telecom outfit.

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Charles Mbire.

Ugandan multimillionaire businessman Charles Mbire is on track to receive an interim dividend of Ush4.48 billion ($1.155 million) from his stake in MTN Uganda after the telecom group reported a double-digit percent increase in earnings in the first half of 2022.

MTN Uganda is Uganda’s leading telecom service operator.

Mbire, the chairman of MTN Uganda and one of Uganda’s wealthiest businessmen, owns a significant 3.98-percent stake in the Ugandan telecom outfit, which operates as the fourth operating subsidiary of the South African multinational mobile telecom company, MTN Group.

The interim dividend will be paid electronically into his bank account at a later date from the group’s retained earnings of Ush902 billion ($232.4 million) at the end of its 2022 fiscal year. It is his first dividend from the telecom company since its shares were listed more than eight months ago.

The dividend payment follows a significant rise in the group’s earnings in the first half of 2022 despite a 4.9-percent decline in voice revenue, as it looks set to replicate its stellar performance in 2021.

As a result of the company’s strong financial performance, the board of directors approved the payment of an interim dividend of Ush5 ($0.00128) per share for the six months ending June 30, totaling Ush11.95 billion ($28.9 million), which is subject to withholding taxes.

According to data retrieved from the company’s earnings report for the first six months of 2022, its profit increased by 48.1 percent to Ush193.6 billion ($50.2 million) in the first half of 2022, compared to Ush130.7 billion ($33.7 million) in the first half of 2021.

The double-digit increase in profit can be attributed to a 10-percent surge in the company’s service revenue, which was driven by a significant increase in data and fintech revenue, which were more than sufficient to offset the 4.9-percent decline in voice revenue.

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Billionaire Robert Smith’s Vista to acquire Avalara business software for $8.4 billion

Smith directs Vista’s investment strategy.

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Robert Smith.

Avalara Inc., a leading tax compliance automation provider for businesses, has agreed to be bought by Vista Equity Partners for $8.4 billion.

Vista Equity Partners is a leading global investment firm led by America’s richest Black person, Robert Smith.

The transaction received unanimous approval from the Avalara board of directors and is expected to close in the second half of 2022, subject to customary closing conditions such as shareholder and regulatory approval.

Under the terms of the deal, Vista will acquire all outstanding shares of Avalara common stock for $93.50 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $8.4 billion, including Avalara’s net debt.

According to a source familiar with the situation, Vista has secured a total of $2.5 billion in loans from private lenders as part of the move to bring in institutional investors as co-investors.

The purchase price represents a 27-percent premium over the company’s closing share price on July 6, the last trading day prior to the announcement of the deal.

“For nearly two decades, Avalara has ambitiously pursued its vision of automating global compliance, making tax less taxing for businesses and governments around the world,” Avalara Co-Founder and CEO Scott McFarlane said.

“As a category leader, we believe that continuing to invest in innovation and experience is exciting for our customers, partners, and employees,” he said. “We are excited to work with Vista and will benefit from their enterprise software expertise as we build and improve our cloud compliance platform.”

After the conclusion of the deal, Avalara shares will no longer trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Avalara will become a private company managed by Vista.

Smith has an $8-billion stake in Vista and directs its investment strategy.

He also serves on its executive committee, the company’s governing and decision-making body for all matters affecting overall management and strategic direction. He has supervised more than 570 completed transactions, with a total transaction value of more than $265 billion.

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