Aliko Dangote and Abdulsamad Rabiu. These two men share some similarities. First, they are billionaire moguls playing big in the same sectors of the economy; and secondly, they both hail from Kano State. But that is where the similarities between them end. These wealthy Nigerians are not only fierce rivals in the business world, but until recent time, were not on talking terms. It was learnt that both were embroiled in a bitter rivalry and conflict of interests that nearly tore them apart. They became so estranged that it became taboo for their mutual friends to attempt reconciliation between them. But in a rare twist, the warring friends decided to bury the hatchet, give peace a chance and respect each other’s territories. And both are progressing. In a year when most Africa’s billionaires have their fortunes tumble in U.S dollar terms, these two businessmen have emerged the two top gainers —with Rabiu closing in on Dangote.
Recently, Forbes released its annual exclusive billionaires ranking with only four Nigerians —Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga, AbdulSamad Rabiu and Folorunsho Alakija— making the highly coveted list. Amongst the four, Dangote, President of Dangote Group retained his spot as the World’s richest black person with a fortune of $10.1 billion. Mike Adenuga, Chairman of Globacom came in as second in Nigeria and third in Africa with a fortune of $7.7billion. Having made a comeback last year at $1.6 billion, this year Rabiu weighs in at $3.1 billion and moves up to eighth in the rankings. Alakija of Famfa Oil completes the list of Forbes billionaires from Nigeria with a fortune of $1 billion coming in at number 20 in Africa. Of the four Nigerians on this year’s Forbes list, only Rabiu saw an increase in his fortunes from the previous year.
Early January 2020, Rabiu pulled off a public listing that seemed to defy logic. His BUA Group merged its privately owned Obu Cement— valued at just under $600 million a year ago— with the publicly traded Cement Company of Northern Nigeria Plc (CCNN), which as of late December 2019 had a market capitalization of about $600 million and thus create Nigeria’s second largest cement producer. Through the magic of the markets, the combined entity, BUA Cement Plc, which listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange on January 8, 2020, is worth nearly three times what the two companies were worth before the merger. The tycoon, sources said, owns 98 per cent of the new company, despite the fact that the Nigerian Stock Exchange requires 20 per cent of a company’s shares be floated to the public. The merger and subsequent new listing on Lagos bourse are behind how Rabiu emerged this year’s second-biggest gainer.
Rabiu, the unassuming business tycoon, is full of life with a keen ear and a great business story. He is working so hard to close in on his city man. Aside Cement, which has catapulted the two Kano business magnates into Africa’s richest, Rabiu, like Dangote, has stakes in a wide range of other business interests including manufacturing, real estate, haulage, oil & gas, port concessions and shipping.
There are even silent whispers that Rabiu is considering owning his own refinery just as his kinsman in not too distant future. In all these, Rabiu, who would be 60 later on August 4, once dismissed talks of any competition with Dangote, pointing out that their mutual interests in certain sectors derive from the inclinations of the patriarchs of their families.
Besides his assets in the BUA Group, Rabiu owns property in Britain worth $62 million, and in South Africa, worth $19 million. Among his properties is a house in Gloucester Square in London worth nearly $16 million and a penthouse at The One & Only Hotel, in Cape Town, worth $12.6 million. Rabiu’s taste for good living is plain to see; he has bought homes from Eaton Square to Avenue Road, also known as Millionaires’ Row. Aside his magnificent home in Kano, the publicity-shy billionaire lives in a stylish humongous mansion in Lagos’ Banana Island, one of the most expensive and exclusive places to live in Nigeria.