Friday, February 26

Meet Africa's Newest Billionaire, Abdul Samad Rabiu, The Unassuming Business Tycoon Extraordinaire

Meet Africa's Newest Billionaire, Abdul Samad Rabiu, The Unassuming Business Tycoon Extraordinaire

Buisness tycoon, Abdul Samad Rabiu

Abdul Samad Rabiu is Africa's Newest billionaire and business tycoon who is taking the world by storm and listed as one of Africa's youngest billionaires.

It was on a frosty autumn night in London when an expensive car drove into the courtyard of a wealthy home. Shortly, on the entrance steps, the doors swung open and coming out was one of Africa’s richest men on a T-shirt, jeans and black overcoat. Hardly could one imagine that the man is the chairman and CEO of BUA Group, a privately-owned conglomerate with interests in manufacturing, infrastructure and agriculture and annual revenues estimated at $2 billion.

The look may be modest but his ambitions are to invest more than $500 million in Nigeria’s economy over the next few years. This is Abdulsamad Rabiu, the unassuming Nigerian business tycoon, full of life, with a keen ear and a great business story.

Rabiu’s stake in his commodities and cement empire, plus his real estate holdings in South Africa and London, are worth $1.2 billion, primarily due to better information on Rabiu’s holdings and the revenue of his companies. In 2013, he ranked 23rd on Forbes list of Africa’s 50 Richest.

Interestingly, he was born to a well-known businessman, Khalifah Isyaku Rabiu, who made a fortune in trade and industry in the decades after Nigeria’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1960. By the 1970s, Isyaku emerged as a key sponsor of the National Party of Nigeria, which became the ruling political party after the country returned to civil rule following the elections of 1979.

In 1984, the Head of State at the time, General Muhammadu Buhari, who had taken over the government in a military coup, arrested Isyaku and jailed him along with other commodity traders on charges of rice hoarding.

During this period, the younger Rabiu earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. Barely 24 years old then, Abdul Samad returned to Nigeria to lead his father’s business empire during the dark days. As a young executive director at the company, he was able to steer the family business out of trouble created by the absence of their father.

When he had successfully navigated his father’s business through stormy waters, he established a trading and manufacturing company called it BUA International Limited in 1988 for the sole purpose of commodity trading and importation of rice, edible oil, flour, iron and steel.

In 1990, the then government-owned Delta Steel Company contracted BUA to supply its raw material needs, for which BUA company was paid with finished products. This provided the much needed windfall for the young company. The company further ventured into steel, billets and iron ore importation and supplying multiple rolling mills in Nigeria.

Few years down the line, BUA acquired Nigerian Oil Mills Limited, the largest edible oil processing company in Nigeria and later set up two flour milling plants in Lagos and Kano in 2005. By 2008, it broke an eight-year monopoly in the Nigerian sugar industry by commissioning the second largest sugar refinery in sub-saharan Africa. The company went on the acquire a controlling stake in a publicly listed Cement Company of Northern Nigeria in 2009 and commenced the construction of a $500 million cement plant in Edo State.

Abdul Samad Rabiu loves giving back and sometimes uses BUA Foundation for his philanthropic activities. These include the construction of a 7,000 Square metre paediatric ward at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital as well as the construction of the Centre for Islamic Studies at the Bayero University, Kano, among several others.

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.

Rabiu jets around the world on an 8-seater Gulfstream G550 worth $44.9 million, powered by a Rolls-Royce BR710 turbofan engine, as well as an $18-million Legacy 600 aircraft.

Rabiu’s achievements in the industry have not gone unrecognised, even by the government. In 2010, he was appointed as chairman of Nigeria’s Bank of Industries (BoI), a bank that provides finance to local and foreign entrepreneurs looking to establish new industries in the country.

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