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Africa could have up to 200 'hidden' billionaires

Africa may have as many as 200 "hidden" billionaires operating in the unofficial economy who will seek to legitimise their wealth in the future, investor Mark Mobius said.

"There is a lot of hidden wealth," Mr Mobius, who oversees more than $40bn (€31bn) as executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, said.

"You hear about Dangote but there are maybe 200 with the same kind of resources that we do not see. The black economy is very big."

Aliko Dangote, Africa's richest man, is benefiting from the continent's economic growth, adding $3bn (€2.3bn) to his wealth this year, taking him to $13bn (€10.1bn), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Africa's gross domestic product is forecast to expand an average six per cent a year for the next five years if Europe, the largest trading partner, records zero per cent to two per cent annual growth, Moody's Investors Service said yesterday.

Richest

Mr Dangote controls Dangote Group, one of the continent's largest conglomerates with publicly traded businesses in cement, sugar, flour and salt that make up about a third of the Nigerian Stock Exchange's market value. Many of the continent's richest individuals don't have publicly traded assets, Mr Mobius said. "What we see is that these very wealthy people will begin to want to legitimise their wealth by a listing," Mr Mobius said yesterday.

"Many of these people escaped to London or other countries in order to preserve their wealth. But it is going to get more and more difficult."

A lot of "hidden wealth" is concentrated in mining, Mr Mobius said. Mr Dangote said he "needs" to invest $7.5bn in industries including mining over the next four years.

(Bloomberg)

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