Tony Elumelu is a renowned Nigerian economist and philanthropist who has a net worth of $900 million. The United Bank of Africa chieftain has his hands in various businesses that have afforded him the opportunity to live a very luxurious life. One particular thing that he spends his money on is real estate, with homes in different parts of Nigeria and abroad.
Tony Elumelu is undoubtedly not as flashy as some other Nigerian billionaires, but he appreciates the good things of life as much as the next wealthiest person. While enjoying himself, he does a lot of philanthropy through The Tony Elumelu Foundation, which has so far empowered over 7,000 African entrepreneurs across 54 African countries. Below is a breakdown of how he makes his money.
How Tony Elumelu’s $900 Million Net Worth Came About
Seeing that Tony Elumelu did not graduate with an honorary degree, he was not exactly the brightest student at the university. However, he was determined to make it in life, and this is how he was able to get involved with a lot of things that allowed him to become very wealthy.
He has further acquired many more academic qualifications after his B.Sc. in Economics. He acquired a Master of Science degree in Economics from the University of Lagos before attending Harvard Business School for the Advanced Management Programme.
Banking is a Major Contributor to Tony Elumelu’s Net Worth
Elumelu started his career in banking, rising through the ranks over the years before leading a group of investors that bought a struggling bank and turned it into a profitable venture. With what he made from the banking industry, he has been able to invest in various other businesses in different sectors of the economy, from power generation to hospitality, agriculture, and oil. Tony Elumelu has a hand in almost everything.
He Interned At Union Bank Before joining Allstates Trust Bank
After graduating with a degree in Economics from Bendel State University (now Ambrose Alli University) in Edo state in 1985, Tony Elumelu embarked on the one-year National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) program. During his service year, he got to work at Union Bank.
At the end of the program, he launched a career as a salesman but returned to banking in 1990 when he applied to Allstates Trust Bank. As the story goes, Elumelu did not meet the academic requirements for the position but still applied. In his cover letter, he admitted his shortcomings while stating that his degree does not fully demonstrate his intelligence and ability.
The bank manager was said to have been impressed with what he read and gave the young man a chance to work with them. After passing his interview, the then-27-year-old Tony began in an entry-level analyst position. He would subsequently enjoy a meteoric rise to become the youngest branch manager of the bank.
Elumelu Acquired Crystal Bank (Standard Trust Bank) and Merged It With UBA
Tony Elumelu began making a name for himself in the banking sector in 1997. This was when he led a small group of investors to acquire Crystal Bank. The commercial bank was struggling and on the edge of bankruptcy when Elumelu and his group came to the rescue.
With a clear plan of what he wanted to achieve, the banker was able to turn the fortunes of Crystal Bank around. But this was not before he renamed it Standard Trust Bank. Under Elumelu’s watch, Standard Trust Bank became very profitable and was on its way to becoming one of the biggest banks in Nigeria.
Elumelu, however, had different ideas. He wanted a financial institution that had clout not just within the borders of Nigeria but around Africa and beyond. As a result, he set his sights on the United Bank of Africa and acquired it in 2005. He acquired the financial institution and merged it with Standard Trust Bank, a move that was regarded as one of the largest mergers in the banking sector in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Following his acquisition of UBA, Tony Elumelu became its Group Managing Director. This put him on a whole other level of affairs as he went from overseeing a bank in a single country to overseeing one that has subsidiaries in 20 African countries and overseas in countries like France, the U.K., and the United States.
Elumelu enjoyed great success at the helm of affairs at UBA before voluntarily retiring in 2010. According to Forbes, he left the company with assets of $12 billion, a market cap of $2 billion, and over 10,000 employees.
Tony Elumelu Founded the Investment Company – Heirs Holdings
After retiring from UBA in 2010, Tony Elumelu launched Heirs Holdings, a family-owned investment holding company that would have interests in various sectors across Africa. The very first piece of business that he did through Heirs was acquiring a controlling stake in Transcorp, Nigeria’s largest listed conglomerate, in 2011.
Transcorp, which is Transnational Corporation of Nigeria PLC, was inaugurated in 2004, focusing on acquiring, managing, and strategizing businesses that create long-term shareholder value and socio-economic impact. According to Forbes, he has a 22.2% stake in the company.
In 2012, Heirs invested in various other real estate and financial companies, including Afriland Properties Plc, United Capital Plc, and Africa Prudential Registrar Plc. In 2020, the company was in the headlines again for agreeing on a deal worth more than $1 billion – the largest oil and gas transaction in Africa in the year. It was for acquiring OML17 (oil license and related assets) from Shell, Total, and Eni.
Other Initiatives and Organizations Tony Elumelu is Involved With
Tony Elumelu is an Adviser to USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa (PCGA) Partners Forum. He also serves as a Co-Chair of the Aspen Institute Dialog Series on Global Food Security.
He sits on the Nigerian President’s Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council (ATIC) and is a Vice-Chairman of the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN), which he played a critical role in developing.
Is Tony Elumelu the Owner of UBA?
Tony Elumelu is widely reported to be the owner of UBA, but that is not exactly the case because UBA is a publicly-traded company. Like several other business entities and people, his holding company, Hiers, has equity in the financial institution, but it is unclear how much equity Elumelu holds.
As earlier stated, he served the institution as Group Managing Director/CEO before retiring in 2010. Tony Elumelu, however, made a comeback in 2021 when he was named Chairman of the Board of the bank, succeeding Joe Keshi.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation was Founded in 2010
In 2010, when Tony Elumelu founded Heirs Holdings to further his business interests, he founded the non-profit organization, The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF). Unlike other non-profit philanthropic organizations, TEF did not just look to dole out cash to whoever was in need.
Instead, it concentrated on impact investing by looking to support projects through collaborative efforts, building alliances, and networking, which would create transformative change. TEF would become a pioneer member of the Global Impact Investment Rating System (GIIRS).
Its first impact investment was in the mixed arable farming business known as Mtanga Farms Limited, located in the highlands of Southern Tanzanian. Other activities the Tony Elumelu Foundation participated in include:
- The Elumelu Legacy Prize: Tony Elumelu and his wife, Dr. Awele Elumelu, set up the prize to recognize students from top tertiary institutions across Nigeria who excel in the fields of their academic study (Economics, Business Administration, and Medicine).
- The Elumelu Professionals Programme (EPP): EPP is a program that looks to recruit experienced professionals to work in SME companies and public sector agencies. These professionals are selected from those graduating from a prestigious program (MBA, Masters in Public Administration, Masters in Public Policy, etc.).
- The Blair Elumelu Fellowship Programme (BEFP): Tony Elumelu Foundation partnered with the Africa Governance Initiative, of which former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is a patron, for a program that aimed to support transformational governments in Africa. The program, scheduled to run for three years, will provide partnering African governments with access to experts from international private and public sectors to help develop the country’s domestic private sector.
By 2015, Tony Elumelu Foundation decided to consolidate all its programs and initiatives. It opted to concentrate on investing in the next generation of African entrepreneurs and business leaders. To do this, TEF put together a structured, robust, and multifaceted support system that will aid entrepreneurs across the continent.
One of these support systems can be seen through the annual Entrepreneurship Forum organized by the foundation, where entrepreneurs from across the continent come together to network and share ideas while also connecting with private and public sector leaders.
So far, TEF has boldly stated that it has empowered more than 15,000 African entrepreneurs from across 54 countries on the continent with a non-returnable seed capital of $5,000 each, twelve weeks of business management training, access to experienced mentors, and membership to Africa’s largest entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Tony Elumelu Achievements, Awards, and Honors
For his contributions to the economic growth of Nigeria and the betterment of society at large through his foundation and other philanthropic deeds, Elumelu has received many awards and recognitions. Below are some of the most notable awards he has received.
- 2003 – The Federal Government of Nigeria bestowed on him the national honor of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR)
- 2006 – Africa Investor, a United Kingdom-based magazine, named him the African Business Leader of The Year
- 2008 – African Banker Magazine named him African Banker of the Year
- 2009 – Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar’adua gave him a seat on the Presidential Committee on the Global Financial Crisis
- 2012 – The Federal Government of Nigeria bestowed on him another national honor – Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON)
- 2016 – The Economic Forum of the Ivorian National Council of Employers, CGECI Academy, gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award.
- 2016 – The Daily Times named him Nigerian Man of the Year.
- 2018 – All-Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) named him Philanthropist of the Year
- 2019 – All-Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) named him Philanthropist of the Year
- 2019 – He was given the National Productivity Order of Merit Award
- 2019 – Bayero University Kano (BUK) gave him an Honorary Doctor of Business Degree
- 2020 – He was named on TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list.
What Kind of House Does Tony Elumelu’s Net Worth Afford Him?
Like every other wealthy Nigerian, Tony Elumelu enjoys the finer things that his net worth can afford. While he may be a philanthropist looking to help people and society, he indulges himself. As you would expect, he does not show off his lifestyle like others, but he owns luxury cars and lives in highbrow areas.
Elumelu is one of the many wealthy people to own a home in Ikoyi, an opulent area of Lagos State. Details about the property, which is believed to be his primary home, are unknown to the public, but it is anybody’s guess what features would be in it. The award-winning banker is a fitness enthusiast, so it would not be a surprise to see that he has a gym in it. There is also a swimming pool and playground on the property.
Tony Elumelu and his wife have seven children. No one expects the family to share rooms, so we can guess that the Elumelu Lagos home would have at least 10 rooms. Add a state-of-the-art living room and kitchen where meals are prepared for all the family members, quarters for domestic staff, and you can see why the home can be described as a mansion.
Several photos of Tony Elumelu standing outside the home beside his garage have revealed that he owns cars like a Mercedes Benz S550, Range Rover, BMW 7-Series, and much more. Other than his home in Lagos, Elumelu is believed to have a house in Abuja and another one in his home state of Delta.
Outside Nigeria, the businessman is believed to have properties in London, England, where he spends a lot of time when he travels out of the country. Details of these properties are not publicly known.