Johann Peter Rupert
(born 1 June 1950) is the eldest son of South African business tycoon Anton Rupert and his wife Huberte. He is the chairman of the Swiss-based luxury-goods company Richemont as well as of the South Africa-based company Remgro. It was announced on 13 November 2009 that as of 1 April 2010, he would assume the position of Chief Executive Officer of Compagnie Financiere Richemont. Together with his family he was estimated to be worth $7.7 billion as of September 2013 and Forbes ranked him as one of the five richest Africans.
He lived his childhood in Stellenbosch and studied company law and economics from the Stellenbosch University. In the middle of persuading his degree, he dropped out to make his career in business. At the start of his career, he was working in New York City as a business apprenticeship.
He worked hard for two years to Chase Manhattan and three years for Lazard Freres. Later in 1979, he came back to South Africa and opened Rand Merchant Bank under his leadership. Johann used to play cricket and likes to spend his time in a golf Course.
Anthony Edward Rupert and Huberte Rupert are the parents of Johann. Anthony was a billionaire businessman, conservationist, and a philanthropist. In the starting of his business career, he was having only a few handfuls of cash. After he was able to find some good investors he was manufacturing cigarettes from his garage. With determination and hard work, his work grew and later he founded Rembrandt Group.
Rembrandt was divided into two different forms later on. One part is the Remgro which deals with investment in Industrial area, Mining, and Finance. The second part is Richemont that works as a Swiss Luxury Goods Group. In the current, the company is expanded in six continents, over more than 30 countries. Anthony’s business profit was also aided in saving Art, Music, Historical buildings and promoting Education. On 18th January 2006, he died while he was sleeping.
Johann Rupert is married to Gaynor Rupert and the couple has three children namely Hanneli Rupert, Caroline Rupert and Anton Rupert Jr.
Rupert grew up in Stellenbosch, where he attended Paul Roos Gymnasium and the University of Stellenbosch, studying economics and company law. He dropped out of the university to pursue a career in business, however, in 2004, the university awarded him an honorary doctorate in economics.
In 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in commerce from Nelson Mandela University. Described as “reclusive” by the Financial Times and Barron’s, Rupert rarely gives interviews and shuns public events. In 2006 the same newspaper also called him “Rupert the Bear” for predicting a world economic crisis.
Rupert served his business apprenticeship in New York City, where he worked for Chase Manhattan for two years and for Lazard Freres for three years. He then returned to South Africa in 1979 and founded Rand Merchant Bank of which he was CEO.
- 1984: Merged RMB and Rand Consolidated Investments, and left to join his father’s company, the Rembrandt Group.
- 1988 Founded Compagnie Financiere Richemont in 1988 and was appointed Non-Executive Director of Rothmans International plc in 1988. He was named “Businessman of the Year” by the Sunday Times in the same year.
- 1989: Appointed Vice Chairman of the Rembrandt Group.
- 1990: Named business leader of the year by Die Burger newspaper and the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce . Formed the Vendôme Luxury Group SA.
- 1991: Appointed Chairman of Rembrandt Group Limited and in 1992 he was named one of 200 “Global Leaders of Tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland.
- 1993: Received the M.S. Louw Award from the A.H.I. (“Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut”).
- 1996: Named Sunday Times Business Times’s Businessman of the Year for second time.
- 1997: Appointed Non-Executive Chairman of Gold Fields South Africa Ltd.
- 1999: Awarded the 1999 Free Market Award by The Free Market Foundation of South Africa.
- 2000: Restructured Rembrandt Group Limited and formed Remgro Limited and VenFin Limited. Appointed Chairman and Chief Executive of Compagnie Financière Richemont SA. Voted “Most influential Business Leader” in South Africa by CEOs of top 100 Listed Companies
- 2004: Awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Economics by the University of Stellenbosch.
- 2008 Voted South Africa’s Business Leader of the Year by the CEOs of the Top 100 Companies, for the third time.
- 2009 Appointed “Officier” of the French “Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur” by the President of the French Republic
- Selected as the 2009 International Wine Entrepreneur of the Year at the Meininger “Excellence in Wine and Spirit” awards ceremony in Düsseldorf, Germany.
- 2009: Appointed Chancellor of Stellenbosch University
- 2010 Made Honorary Vice President of the European Golf Tour
- Awarded Honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of St. Andrews, Scotland
Habbit and Other Interest
Rupert is a former cricketer and founded the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in 1990. Laureus funds 65 projects globally, with the goal of using sport to tackle social issues, having a particular emphasis on underprivileged children. He co-founded the Sports Science Institute with his friends Morne du Plessis and Tim Noakes. Rupert also developed the Gary Player designed, Leopard Creek Golf Club in Mpumalanga, South Africa which is one of South Africa’s top three golf courses, and rated number 25 outside the United States of America (Golf Digest). He has also played in the annual Gary Player Invitational golf tournament to assist fellow South African and friend Gary Player raise funds for various children’s charities. He serves as Chairman of the South African PGA Tour and Chairman of the South African Golf Development Board. In 2007 he was elected into South African Sports Hall of Fame and in 2009 was inducted into South African Golf Hall of Fame.
Following his younger brother Anthonij’s death in a car accident in 2001 he took over the L’Ormarins wine estate. Anthonij, was head of Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons. Rupert initiated a project to enhance the farm in memory of his late brother.
He was council member of The South Africa Foundation and trustee of the Southern African Nature Foundation, The Institute of Directors in Southern Africa, Business South Africa and Die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns and Managing Trustee and member of the investment committee, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. He served on the Daimler Chrysler International Advisory Board.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Anton, Johann Rupert is also a committed conservationist. In addition to personally conserving about 25,000 hectares in the Graaff Reinet area, he is also Chairman of the Peace Parks Foundation.
When the British design magazine Wallpaper described the Afrikaans language as “one of the ugliest languages in the world” in its September 2005 edition (in reference to the Afrikaans Language Monument), Rupert responded by withdrawing advertising for his companies’ brands such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Montblanc and Alfred Dunhill from the magazine.
In December 2016, it was reported that Rupert had dropped Bell Pottinger as the PR agency of Richemont, accusing Bell Pottinger of running a social media campaign against him, to divert attention away from persistent ‘state capture’ allegations levelled at the Gupta family. In February 2017, Rupert alleged that Bell Pottinger had maliciously altered his Wikipedia page. Rupert personally contacted Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and the page was subsequently fixed.
Fact about the South Africa Billionaire
- He is outspoken about things he is passionate about.
- He started out as a banker in Chase Manhattan
- He grew up in Stellenbosch
- He is described as being reclusive
- He own Franschhoek Motor Museum that is home to his personal collection of over 200 antique cars including his very own 63 Ferrari Lusso GT
Lesson from the Richest man in South Africa
Leaders Are Born
Johann Rupert is regarded as a born leader. His leadership skills come out naturally and this is how he has managed to grow his business empire. He first started out by working for Chase Manhattan on Wall Street. In 1979, he established Rand Merchant Bank, South Africa. Later on, he took over the family business and managed to transform it into a business empire. After the death of his younger sibling, Antonij, he took over the wine business (Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons) and made it quite successful.
Be Focused with a No-Nonsense Approach
The South African tycoon is known for being quite focused. He always plays a leading role in any investment or decision-making. Despite his fame and popularity, he doesn’t like being in the limelight. In fact, due to his solitary and withdrawn nature, he was once referred to as a recluse by The Barron as well as Financial Times. In 2005, the Wallpaper publication asserted that “Afrikaans” was an ugly language. This angered him so much that he stopped the firm from advertising his brands.
Diversification Is the Key to Good Success
Although he took over a tobacco business, Mr. Rupert’s interests spanned into other fields. The luxury goods sector is the most dominant of all his businesses. However, his strong presence is equally felt in other industries which include mining, banking and finance, wine and spirits, food, industrial gases, building sector and many others. Looking at how he has diversified his business, it is evident that demographics play an important role. Hedging against risk also plays a major role in the success of his business empire.
Make Decisions Based on Future Projections
Going by the kind of investment decisions he makes, it is clear that they are based on future expectations rather than present occurrence. His companies look at investment opportunities that are already successful and show a good growth pattern. In addition, he does not make investment decisions based on speculations or demographics. In 2006, he earned the title “Rupert the Bear” for predicting a slump in the economy. In 1992, he was referred to as a leader of the future by the World Economic Forum.
Make Good Use of the Niche Market
Although he has many investments locally as well as globally, Johann Rupert focuses on high-end luxury goods. Besides forming partnerships and collaborations with other successful companies, his company only invests in successful companies, and mainly targets luxury items. This can be seen from the luxury goods which include watches, jewelry, clothing, and writing instruments. The selling outlets are located in high-end fashion cities such as New York, Hong Kong, Paris, London, and Geneva among others.