Douw Steyn is a South African billionaire businessman with a net worth estimated to be around £2.05 billion (R40.4 billion). The founder of BGL Group, a UK-based insurance and financial services company, is one of the richest individuals in South Africa and the United Kingdom.
The status of Douw as a billionaire has been on the rise in recent years as he was said to have seen his fortune jump by a massive £1.1 billion (R21.7 billion) in 2021 to give him his current fortune. Here is a look at how his numbers have been over the years.
How Douw Steyn’s Net Worth Was Built Through The Years
Although it was with Auto & General in South Africa that he arguably started building his real fortune, Steyn soon expanded to the United Kingdom where he founded what would grow into the largest consumer insurance group in the UK – BGL; Budget Insurance Company in 1991. Steyn remained the head of BGL Group for two decades before stepping down in 2012 as its non-executive chairman. As of 2015, it was reported that BGL was generating £100m profit a year.
As he continued to build BGL and disrupt the insurance industry in South Africa at the same time, he was also buying lands and farms because he had the dream of owning a game reserve in his country of birth. He got to garner a massive 10,000 hectares in the country which he turned to the bushveld. This was followed by the acquisition of different animals such as baboons, zebra, giraffes, antelopes, buffaloes, and then predators such as lions, leopards, jackals, hyenas, and cheetahs among others. By the time he was done, the Shambala Private Game Reserve, which is one of the biggest game reserves in South Africa, was born. While Shambala was in Limpopo, in Johannesburg, he built his Saxon Hotel which was where Nelson Mandela retreated after he was freed from prison in the early 1990s.
Shambala is recognized for being a malaria-free reserve and also for its disease-free buffalo breeds. By 2010, it was revealed that the investment of Douw Steyn in some of the best buffalo in South Africa for Shambala was put at R29.7 million.
With the above businesses and others, Steyn’s net worth was already £600 million (R10.5 billion) by 2014. It was reported that four years before then, his net worth was half of that, meaning he had a net worth of around £300 million in 2010. The surge in his fortune in only four years was said to be thanks to a TV ad campaign that featured meerkat, Alexsandr Orlov. In 2012, his net worth had dropped briefly to £200 million.
By 2015, Douw Steyn was ranked as the 160th richest man in the United Kingdom. His net worth in that year was put at £700 million and then in 2016, his net worth was estimated at the same £700 million. In 2018, The Sunday Times Rich List estimated his net worth had jumped to around £900 million and he was ranked the 4th richest person living in and around Cambridgeshire in the UK. He maintained this same net worth in 2019, but by 2020, he had moved to a net worth of £0.95 billion.
In 2021, the insurance businessman and property developer returned with a shocker as he moved an incredible 70 places from his rank as the 150th richest man in the UK to the 79th spot. His net worth moved by a shocking £1.1 billion (R21.7 billion), giving him an estimated net worth of £2.05 billion (R40.4 billion). It is of note to point out that this became the first time that he was crossing the billion pound sterling mark, even though he was since a billionaire in the South African currency.
Since 2014, the net worth of Steyn has continued to experience growth without dipping at any point. Here is a movement of his net worth since then:
- Douw Steyn net worth in 2014: £600 million (R10.5 billion)
- 2015: £700 million
- 2016: £700 million
- 2017: £800 million (R16.3 billion)
- 2018: £900 million (R16.7 billion)
- 2019: £900 million (R16.7 billion)
- 2020: £0.95 billion
- 2021: £2.05 billion (R40.4 billion).
With his recent net worth, Douw Steyn joined four other South African billionaires to make the list of the richest people in the United Kingdom for 2021. He is behind Nicky Oppenheimer and his family who have a net worth of £5.797 billion (R114.2 billion) and Nathan Kirsch whose net worth was estimated at £4.178 billion (R82.3 billion). Steyn comes in third and is followed by Manfred Gorvy whose fortune is estimated at £921 million.
More so, he is among the richest people in South Africa on a list that has powerful people such as Nicky Oppenheimer and Johann Rupert whose net worth is $7.1 billion. Others on the list include Patrice Motsepe with $2.7 billion, Koos Bekker with $2.5 billion, Stephen Saad with $1.9 billion, and Michiel Le Roux whose net worth has been estimated at $1.6 billion.
Douw Steyn Began His Career As A Surveyor
Born Douw Gerbrand Steyn in South Africa in December 1952, Steyn has come a long way to having a net worth that is now put at the aforementioned £2.05 billion. He got his education in South Arica in Linden, Johannesburg, and from there, he proceeded to Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education.
A self-made billionaire, Steyn started out as a surveyor. He worked with Eskom Mega Watt Park as a quantity surveyor for a while. Although his stay at Eskom was not well captured, it is known that it was from here that he later founded his various national and international insurance companies that would turn him into a billionaire.
In between, he stayed in Germany for some time, and it was there that the idea for selling policies first came to him. While in Germany, he worked with Siemens while also running a two-year program. His next stop was the United States of America where Steyn began his Insurance Company, Cal-America. This did not seem to be as successful as his subsequent endeavors as it does not get mentioned as all others. He then returned to South Africa where he began his Auto and General Insurance Company in 1985. He was only 33 years old when he started this revolutionary business that would put him on the map to becoming one of the richest men in the world decades later.
All The Other Sources Of Douw Steyn’s Net Worth
Apart from all the above-stated ways that the South African born insurance-titan makes his money, he is also cashing out through many other ways, including the following:
CompareTheMarket Is One Of His Biggest Money Spinners
Of late, one of the biggest money-makers for Douw is his insurance website, CompareTheMarket.com. A part of the BGL Group, the UK price comparison website was founded in 2006. Although it started in the UK, it began the Australian counterpart of the site after six years. The platform allows customers to compare the prices of Insurance products such as life, cars, travel, and more than 50 others. It later added other things such as digital TV services, energy and utilities, and even financial comparison items.
Compare the Market was valued at £2.25bn in 2017 when Canada Pension Investment Board decided to put in as much as £675m for a 30 percent stake in BGL Group. In 2015, it was reported that the site made a profit of £94m profit on revenues of £507m.
He Also Has Some Insurance Companies
Apart from the insurance company that he started in South Africa as well as BLG in the UK, the insurance titan has also founded other companies that are less known globally in the same sector. In 1999, he founded the Australian Insurance Company which was later followed by his Bermuda-based Reinsurance Company. There is not much information available on these companies.
In general, the major sources of fortune of the billionaire businessman through the years have included the following:
- Auto and General Insurance Company in South Africa
- Budget Insurance Company in the UK
- Shambala Private Game Reserve in South Africa
- Saxon Hotel in South Africa
- CompareTheMarket.com in the UK
- CompareTheMarket.com.au in Australia
- Australian Insurance Company
- Reinsurance Company in Bermuda
- Steyn City in South Africa
How The Billionaire Spends His Money and The Cars He Drives
As indicated, Douw Steyn is a man who loves good cars above most other things. He has a collection of vintage cars that number over 30 in his garage. He has some of the cars that you may never get to see on the road as he is either the only one to have such or one of the very few.
At the top of his collection is his custom-built Rolls-Royce which is also known as Douwmobile. This set of wheels is the only one in the world and it is estimated to cost $2.1 million. It was designed by Douw himself with the help of Pininfarina in Italy in 2010. This car is in addition to his 1930 Rolls Royce. Yet another car in his garage is the Ferrari 365 GTB/4. This 1972 Ferrari Dayton is a two-seater grand tourer which as a vintage, is now estimated to cost anything between $500,000 to $2.6 million.
The Oldsmobile Curved Dash is among the first mass-produced automobile in the world, powered by gasoline. While not many of these are found in the world today, Steyn has one in his garage, the 1902 Oldsmobile. The rich man also has several Benz cars to his name although the models are not known.
With more than 30 cars to his name, including vintage sports cars, here is a list of some of Douw Steyn’s cars:
- 1902 Oldsmobile
- 1930 Rolls Royce
- Ferrari 365 GTB/4 (1972 Ferrari Dayton)
- 2010 custom Rolls Royce (Douwmobile)
- Several Benz cars
It is for his love of cars that the Concours South Africa now takes place at Steyn City in Johannesburg. The event has attracted cars such as the 1971 Dino 246 GT, 1939 Jaguar SS 2.5 Saloon, 1990 BMW E30 325iS, and 1957 VW Kombi Type – 2 among others.
He Lives In A R250 Million Palazzo Steyn
Douw Steyn is a man of high taste when it comes to properties. He owns a £62 million mansion in London’s Belgravia. The billionaire bought the ten-bedroom property in 2012. Even though this has attracted the attraction and envy of many, one that has attracted even more is his Palazzo Steyn which is estimated at R250 million. The Pallazo was originally inspired by an Italian mansion. For a place that massive, it does not lose the feeling of a home.
The property, which is at the center of his Steyn City, has a garage that can house all of his cars. The garage has the look of a ballroom with a marble-lined basement. Other features of the epic property that sits outside of Johannesburg and is considered among the biggest houses in South Africa are 7 bedroom suits, a wine cellar, two fire pools, extensive walled gardens, and a large swimming pool. It has a golf course that is said to be different from anything else in the world. It is designed with an aqueduct that seems as though a part of it is broken into the river to provide for waterfalls.
One interesting thing about the mansion is that the entire work which seems highly artistic was done by local craftsmen. Local marble was used for the floor of the palazzo while African wood was used for the doors and windows. The chandelier of the dome is from the Cafe Royale in London, which is a victorian era hotel. It has a spectacular library also, a gymnasium, guest bedrooms that offer different experiences, a climate control system, background music system, and well-detailed hand-painted walls. Generally Italian, the aqueduct is roman while other parts of the property are Indian, European, and of course, African.
As stated, the Pallazzo Steyn is a part of the bigger Steyn City, a project that swallowed as much as R6 billion in its infrastructure phase that only covers things such as the internal and external utilities. With a dream of having 11,000 homes, the city sleeps in Johannesburg between Fourways and Lanseria. With more than 2,000 hectares, the estate has been named the largest in the country. After the initial investment of R6.5 billion in the city in 2015, R5.5 billion was later invested again in 2019. The city is said to be five times the size of Monaco.
Douw Steyn’s Name Has Been Associated With Some Controversies In The Past
For a very private individual who has always kept his dealings very private and prefers not to give interviews, the billionaire has not been able to steer off some controversies most especially in his personal life. In the political sphere, Douw who is said to share close ties with former American President, Bill Clinton, was linked to Nelson Mandela in the past and after the former was released from prison, he did not only house him in his private game reserve but also later built a place for the former South African president there.
Even with such political ties, the wealth of Steyn was not linked to the South African government and unlike many other very rich men in the country, there have never been any allegations of corruption against him even though at a point, he was seen as one of the important donors to the ruling ANC party.
His Alleged Marriage and Divorce From Donne Botha
The most known controversy he has been involved in is his alleged marriage to his former partner, Donne Botha. The pair were said to have first met in September 2005 when they fell in love. Botha revealed that they got engaged that same year and then in 2007, they signed an agreement wherein proprietary issues were dealt with to cover for anything if they later got married.
In August 2007, they came together with friends and family for a ceremony at the Lanesborough hotel in London for what was supposed to be their wedding as indicated in their invitation cards. Guests were flown from South Africa by Steyn who also housed them, and during the ceremony, the two exchanged rings as a symbol of their togetherness. During the ceremony, Donne was dressed in an R100,000 (£7,000) gown. Since then, they continued to live together in both South Africa and the UK.
In 2009, Botha decided she was done with the relationship and so she walked away from what she felt was a marriage. In 2014, she dragged Steyn to court as she demanded to be paid $100,000 by her former lover until she either died or got married again. The billionaire insisted he was not going to pay her any money because they were never married in the first place. According to him, the event in London was nothing but a blessing ceremony. The argument on Steyn’s side was that according to English law, the officiating party or the priest who conducts a wedding ceremony is obligated to complete the certification but in the case of Douw and Botha, there was nothing like that, hence it was not possible for either of them to claim they were ever married.
The controversy was finally buried in 2021 after it was ruled that there was never a marriage between them. In her ruling, Judge Khosi Hadebe made it clear that Botha who filed the case against Douw Steyn knew very well that there was no marriage but was only being argumentative in the court rather than answering the questions that were thrown at her. The case was subsequently dismissed.
Steyn Is Said To Have Cheated On Donne
There was another controversy that Steyn and Botha were involved in back in 2016 when it was alleged that Donne caught her man in bed with another woman named Bianca Ferrante. In a rage, Donne broke a bottle and allegedly attacked Ferrante with it. It was reported that it took the intervention of Steyn’s bodyguards to prevent any major harm to Bianca. In a shocking twist, Ferrante who is a beautician also claimed to be Steyn’s fiancée.
Donne was later charged with attempted murder and during the trial, she insisted she did not know what happened that night because she was distraught and drunk. She also claimed that on the day of the incident, she took strong medication. She was found guilty of assault with an intent to do grievous bodily harm. She was fined R3000 or 12 months imprisonment, suspended for three years.
On the side, Ferrante insisted that Steyn promised to marry her and so for breach of the promise as well as other damages, she wanted him to pay her R1.2 million (nearly £80,000). Not to be outdone, Steyn also filed a countersuit in which he alleged that Ferrante’s lawyer made an attempt to extort money from him.
Donne Botha Accused Him Of Abusing Her
All the known controversial cases against the mogul were centered around his relationship with Botha who in 2013, made claims that the billionaire assaulted her in 2006 and 2008. The attorney of the billionaire insisted that Botha had threatened years ago after they parted ways, that she was going to lay criminal charges against him unless he paid her R30 million for what she allegedly claimed to be spousal support.
The attorney claimed that it was because of this that Donne filed a case against Douw Steyn only a few days after he got married to his wife Carolyn Steyn in 2013. Nothing of significance came out of this claim either.
Douw Steyn Net Worth Doesn’t Seem To Be Impacted By His Charity Works
Douw Steyn and his wife, Carolyn Steyn, who is an actress, film producer, and voice actress, have been involved in different charity works which have seen them give away millions of Rands. More than anything else, his wife is associated with ’67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day’, a movement which she founded to make 67 blankets by knitting, sewing, or crocheting them to be distributed to those in need. Recognized as the Campaign of The Year at the South African of the Year awards in 2014, the movement has provided blankets for the needy, homeless, and those in prison among others.
In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the charitable side of the billionaire was made bare when through the Douw Steyn Family Trust, he gave out R320 million to help in the efforts against the pandemic. It was revealed that while R50 million was earmarked for the National Solidarity fund, 200 million was kept aside for feedings schemes while R70 million was to be used for a relief fund.