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MBABANE – Swazi businessman Nathan Kirsh has retained his wealth at E34.1 billion (US$3.1 billion) in the latest Forbes annual ranking of the world’s richest people in the year 2014.
Born in South Africa on January 6, 1932, Kirsh is the eighth richest man in Africa, at least according to the Forbes magazine’s list of rich people globally.

However, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, his net worth is at least US$5.1 billion or E56.1 billion, which makes him fourth richest man on the continent.
According to previous year’s Forbes ranking, Kirsh’s wealth was estimated at E34.1 billion, which means he managed to keep his wealth in the same position this year, in a year where a record 29 African billionaires made their money and managed to get into the Forbes list.

There were 20 African billionaires in 2013.
He and his wife Frances Herr have one son and two daughters.
Overall, there were 1 645 billionaires in the world according to Forbes this year.
According to both rankings, Kirsh is richer than South Africa’s first and only black billionaire mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, who is worth E29.7 billion.

With a 63 per cent stake in Brooklyn-based Jetro Holdings, Kirsh controls 86 restaurant depots and 10 Jetro Cash and Carry stores, a chain that sells wholesale groceries to urban store owners around the United States of America.
The closely held company generated at least US$6.5 billion (E71.5 billion) in revenue and US$500 million (E5.5 billion) in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation in the last 12 months.

The retailer was said to be worth at least US$5 billion (E55 billion), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Interviewed by Bloomberg recently, Kirsh said he was a private person.
“We are private, we are profitable and we have fun,” says Kirsh, who has never before appeared on an international wealth ranking.
“We just don’t scream about what we do.”

Kirsh made his first fortune in Africa, specifically in Swaziland, where he started a corn-milling business in 1958.
By the mid-1980s, he had turned a South African food wholesaler into a dominant retailer.
The company became overextended by committing to build almost two dozen malls just as international sanctions against apartheid tightened lending in South Africa. However, he lost most of his fortune due to sanctions to the then South Africa’s ruling regime.

Last December, he agreed to pay US$455 million (E50 billion) for the Tower 42 skyscraper complex in London.
In October of the same year, he had acquired a Georgian building, next to the Madame Tussauds wax museum, to become the headquarters of the Kirsh Group.
For the first time, his disparate investments overseas would be under one roof.

Kirsh also owns stakes in UK tanner Crest JMT Leather, Amsterdam-based fitness chain Holmes Place, Mumbai-based pipe maker Kitec Industries, and Yehud (Israel)-based Magal Security Systems among others.
In Swaziland, through the Kirsh group of companies, he owns the Farm Chemicals company, Enviro Applied Products company based in the sugar belt, Swaziland Milling and Mbabane Development Corporation, among others. 
Kirsh left South Africa permanently for Swaziland in 1986 after a business partnership between his company, Kirsh Industries, and Sanlam, one of South Africa’s leading financial services groups, unravelled.

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