Johann Rupert
Visionaries - January 18, 2022

How Africa’s 2nd Richest Person, Johann Peter Rupert, Made His Billions

Trailing the biggest business decision made by Africa's second richest person.

Johann Peter Rupert is Africa’s 2nd richest person with a net worth of $11.7 billion. He was born in Stellenbosch, South Africa, on June 1, 1950, to millionaire manufacturer Anton Rupert and his wife, Huberte. His father, a self-made businessman, created Rembrandt Group, a tobacco firm, in 1948. Rupert enrolled at the University of Stellenbosch to study economics and business law after graduating from high school in Stellenbosch. He did not complete his education and instead relocated to New York, where he worked as a trainee for Chase Manhattan.

He returned to South Africa after five years in New York, where he worked for Chase and then Lazard Freres before founding Rand Merchant Bank. Rupert joined the family company once the bank merged with Rand Consolidated Investments a few years later. Rembrandt ventured into the worlds of wine and spirits, as well as banking, mining, food, and packaging in South Africa.

Rupert succeeded his father as chairman of Rembrandt in the late 1980s. One of his first major acts was to break off Rembrandt’s European operations and establish Richemont, a Swiss luxury goods giant. Among the brands owned by the company are Van Cleef & Arpels, Azzedine Alaia and Piaget.

According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the majority of Rupert’s income comes from Cie Financiere Richemont, a publicly-traded luxury goods producer and retailer, and the world’s largest luxury watchmaker.

The luxury brand’s annual report for the year ending March 31, 2021, shows that parties linked with Johann Rupert and his family investment vehicle, Compagnie Financiere Rupert, hold 0.5 percent of the company’s publicly listed Class A shares. According to the study, the family also owns all Class B shares, which do not trade and have one-tenth the economic worth of Class A shares, through the Swiss-based Compagnie Financiere Rupert.

The billionaire is the family’s investment vehicle’s chairman. Individual ownership shares have not been disclosed but linked to Rupert.

They also own a part in Remgro, a holding company with more than 30 firms under its umbrella, including FirstRand, Unilever South Africa, and RMB Holdings. According to the company’s 2020 annual report, the family beneficially owns 1% of Remgro’s publicly traded ordinary shares and controls all of Remgro’s Class B shares through Rembrandt Trust, of which Rupert is a director. According to experts covering the firm who asked not to be identified, the two share classes have equal economic worth.

READ ALSO: How Africa’s Youngest Billionaire Mohammed Dewji made His Fortune

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