Billionaire steel tycoon is spreading his wealth

STEEL tycoon Eric Samson was ready to finish the job. At a tense board meeting of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund last year, members grappled with how to complete construction on its flagship hospital in Johannesburg.

The building is backed by Samson, a friend of the late president, and was behind schedule and short of cash.

“We thought we should be on the ground already,” says Sibongile Mkhabela, the fund’s CEO. “As we were looking at the numbers, Samson simply said ‘I will put in R100m’. And that was that.”

The donation comes as Samson, 76, unwinds an industrial empire that he spent more than five decades building across three continents. His fortune, most of which is derived from steel and real estate assets he quietly amassed through his Macsteel holding company, is valued at $1.1bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index. He has never appeared on an international wealth ranking, and didn’t respond to phone and e-mail requests seeking comment.

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