100 World Class South Africans: Johann Rupert

2013-10-15 12:00

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Business giant and do-gooder

When Johann Rupert inherited the family business (his father Anton made his fortune with Rembrandt tobacco), he could have sat back and enjoyed the spoils.

Instead, after working on Wall Street, he returned to SA and founded Rand Merchant Bank.

On later joining the family business, he split it into luxury goods and an investment arm with interests in mining, industry, telecoms and energy.

By 1992 the World Economic Forum had hailed Rupert as an International Leader of the Future.

Richemont is today the world’s second-largest purveyor of luxury brands (Cartier, Piaget, Montblanc etc) and has just opened 60 new stores, including in Shanghai, Paris and Vegas.

Rupert is the third richest man in Africa, worth about $5.7 billion.

He’s used his money to found the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and SA’s Small Business Development Corporation, among others.

He’s also added his considerable clout to the World Wide Fund for Nature, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and SA Golf Development Board.

He’s a major global mover, who’s received the French Legion d’Honneur, but remains fiercely South African: when Wallpaper called Afrikaans ‘the ugliest language in the world’ in 2005, Rupert withdrew his luxury brands advertising from the magazine.

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