Johann Rupert now worth over R200 billion

Johann Rupert has overtaken Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote to become the richest person in Africa, with a net worth of R216 billion ($11.9 billion).

This is according to Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires List, which ranks Rupert as the 145th richest person in the world. Dangote, with a net worth of R196 billion ($10.8 billion), is ranked 170th. 

Rupert’s wealth has skyrocketed by R40 billion in 2023 due to the rise in his luxury goods company Richemont’s share price.

Richemont’s share price has appreciated 33.21% in 2023, with the company reporting strong results in May. 

Johann is the eldest son of Anton Rupert, whose ventures in the 1940s are the foundation of the Rupert family’s wealth.

Anton Rupert established Voorbrand, a tobacco company, in the 1940s. Voorbrand was the forerunner of Rembrandt, which entered the South African cigarette and tobacco industry in 1948.

Rembrandt was a runaway success in South Africa, listing on the JSE less than a decade after being founded.

During this period, Johann Rupert studied economics at the University of Stellenbosch but dropped out to pursue a career in business.

He worked for Chase Manhattan and Lazard Freres in New York before returning to South Africa in 1979 to start Rand Merchant Bank (RMB).

He was CEO of RMB until 1984 when RMB and Rand Consolidated Investments merged to form RMB Holdings. He left the company to join Rembrandt.

Soon after joining his father’s company, he spun off Rembrandt’s international assets to form Compagnie Financiere Richemont, a Swiss luxury goods holding company with brands like Cartier and Montblanc. 

Rembrandt and Richemont consolidated their tobacco interests in Rothmans International In 1995. A few years later, it merged these interests with those of British American Tobacco. 

In 2000, Rupert was appointed chairman and CEO of Richemont, and the company’s non-luxuries-related activities were spun off into Reinet Investments in 2008.

Today, Rupert is the chairman of Remgro, Richemont, and Reinet Investments.

South African dollar billionaires

Below is a table of the richest South Africans with their Forbes billionaire rankings.

Net WealthForbes ranking as of 19 June 2023
Johann Rupert$11.9 billion145
Nicky Oppenheimer$8.4 billion259
Patrice Motsepe$2.6 billion1211
Koos Bekker$2.5 billion1263