Forbes 2021: Why Mike Adenuga Does not Take Ratings Seriously

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Forbes 2021: Why Mike Adenuga Does not Take Ratings Seriously

Forbes 2021: Why Mike Adenuga Does not Take Ratings Seriously
January 23
11:09 2021

By Temitope Ogundowole

The history of Forbes Magazine’s billionaires rating has been one continued gaffe from one end to the other. Among other things, the magazine has been accused severally of publishing flawed ratings of national and global billionaires thus conferring unearned repute on many of its subjects.

Insiders allege that the publication has over time, developed a strategy for amassing profit via advertisements from beneficiaries of its often slanted ratings.

In Nigeria and other parts of the globe, for instance, many of the characters who are listed in the magazine’s billionaires’ ratings have been deemed unworthy.

Pundits alleged that if beneficiaries have to ply Forbes with advertisements to get on the list thus making the ratings very unreliable.

It’s a poor reflection of the actual state of things as many beneficiaries of the publication’s billionaire ratings have been described as desperate characters seeking overnight acclaim.

“Forbes will feature anyone now as long as the individual can place an advertisement in the magazine. They are practically selling the ratings to anyone with advertisement money. That’s a shame,” said a financial expert cum auditor in the energy services industry.

Having realised Nigerians’ lust for titles, and to be identified as symbols of affluence, the Forbes magazine management, and editorial team devised a strategy to exploit the vanities of such readership segment.

For instance, part of that strategy has been the magazine’s 30 under 30 list, aimed explicitly at supposedly ‘up and coming.’ The expansion of the list to include multiple categories and a vast array of individuals has been greeted with understandable scepticism, but Forbes defends the move with reference to those who get name-checked.

Financial experts argued that the magazine’s yardstick for calculating billionaires’ net worth is extremely flawed. According to them, the task is seriously complex, for the primary reason that many of these assets have values that are changing nearly continuously, and some can experience large swings on an hourly basis.

The more complex financial instruments become, the harder it is to ever say they are worth one thing since a few seconds later they could be worth something else entirely. Billionaires do not, as a rule, keep their net worth in a bank account somewhere they can just look up the balance, but rather diversify their holdings across a range of asset classes and as a result their net worth continuously shifts and thus have to be estimated like a random, inaccurate guess.

Consequently, some of their articles have been condemned and declared sheer hooey, with no basis in reality; and the magazine has been conned successfully, several times into publishing things that simply aren’t true.

Interestingly, however, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria is Africa’s richest person and has maintained this position for straight 10 years, according to the 2021 Forbes’ Africa Billionaires List released on Friday.

Also, Mike Adenuga of Globacom, and Abdulsamad Rabiu of BUA Group, both Nigerians, made it to the list as the 5th and 6th richest persons in Africa respectively.

Forbes stated that in Africa, as elsewhere in the world, the wealthiest came through the pandemic just fine.

It stated that the continent’s 18 billionaires were worth an average $4.1bn, 12 per cent more than a year ago, driven in part by Nigeria’s surging stock market.

“For the tenth year in a row, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria is the continent’s richest person, worth $12.1bn, up by $2bn from last year’s list, thanks to a roughly 30 per cent rise in the share price of Dangote Cement, by far his most valuable asset,” Forbes stated in its report.

The list named the second richest person in Africa as Nassef Sawiris of Egypt, whose largest asset was a nearly six per cent stake in sportswear maker Adidas.

At number three was Nicky Oppenheimer of South Africa, who inherited a stake in diamond firm DeBeers and ran the company until 2012, when he sold his family’s 40 per cent stake in DeBeers to mining giant AngloAmerican for $5.1bn.

It said the biggest gainer this year was another Nigerian cement tycoon, Rabiu.

“Remarkably, shares of his BUA Cement Plc, which listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange in January 2020, have doubled in value in the past year,” the report stated.

That pushed Rabiu’s fortune up by an extraordinary 77 per cent, to $5.5bn, adding that Rabiu and his son together own about 97 per cent of the company, giving the company a tiny public float.

It stated Nigerian Stock Exchange required that either 20 per cent or more of a company’s shares should be floated to the public, or that the floated shares were worth at least N20bn, about $50m, describing it as a paltry sum, to be sure.

Curiously, however, not a few Nigerians are sniggering at the new release by Forbes.

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