Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Internet is a great place for finding information and, once there, Wikipedia is a great encyclopedia to visit.

I have just shown you one extract, Dr Anton Rupert, an Afrikaner I had the good fortune to meet over 25 years ago, at a cocktail party in London. He was quite short. I don’t know, perhaps around 5’2″? Anyway when he walked into the room the magnetism was extraordinary.

Perhaps, if you read the Wikipedia extract below, it might become apparant why this was so.


Anton Rupert (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Anton Edward Rupert (4 October 1916 – ) is an Afrikaner-South African billionaire entrepreneur, businessman and conservationist. He was born in the small town of Graaff-Reinet and grew up in Stellenbosch, where the Rupert Group still has its headquarters.

After dropping out of medical school due to a lack of funds, Rupert earned a chemistry degree at the University of Pretoria.

From humble beginnings as a chemistry lecturer, manufacturing cigarettes in his garage, Dr. Rupert built the tobacco and industrial conglomerate Rembrandt and oversaw its transition to the industrial and luxury branded goods sectors, with Rembrandt splitting into Remgro (an investment company with financial, mining and industrial interests) and Richemont (a Swiss based luxury goods group). Currently, the Rupert business empire encompasses hundreds of companies located in 35 countries on six continents, with combined yearly net sales in the region of USD 10 billion.

Dr Rupert has also been deeply involved in environmental conservation and his companies have been prominent in funding the fine arts; since 1964 foundations established by Rembrandt have used a part of the group’s profits for the promotion of education, art, music and the preservation of historical buildings.

He has also played an important role in the South African Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC), a non-profit company whose loans to small and medium-sized businesses have created nearly half a million jobs since 1981.

Although he was openly critical of the apartheid system during that era, both at home and abroad, he avoided confrontations that may have threatened his business interest.

In 2004, he was voted 28th in the Top 100 Great South Africans (see List of South Africans).

Business career

Dr. Rupert established the tobacco company “Voorbrand” in the 1940’s. He soon renamed it Rembrandt Ltd., whose overseas tobacco interests were consolidated into Rothmans in 1972.

In 1988, the Rembrandt group founded the Swiss luxury goods company, Richemont, which in turn acquired Rembrandt’s shares in Rothmans. Richemont also owns such luxury brands as Cartier (jewellery); Alfred Dunhill, Sulka and Hackett (designer clothing); Seeger (leather bags); Piaget, Baume & Mercier and Vacheron Constantin (Swiss watches) and Montblanc (pens).

In 1995 Rembrandt and Richemont consolidated their respective tobacco interests into Rothmans International, which was at the time the world’s fourth largest cigarette manufacturer.

In 1999 Rothmans International merged with British American Tobacco (BAT), the world’s second largest cigarette producer. Remgro now holds a 10% and Richemont an 18.6% share in BAT.

Dr Rupert’s eldest son, Johann Rupert, is now the CEO of Richemont and chairman of Remgro.

The Rupert family is also deeply involved in the South African wine and liquor industry, owning the L’Ormarins and La Motte wine estates and having a stake in Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons (the wine-making partnership between the Rupert and Rothschild families). (At the time of his death due to a car crash in 2001, Dr. Rupert’s youngest son, Anthonij, was head of Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons.)

The Ruperts also partially control of two of South Africa’s largest wine merchant houses, Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery (SFW) and Distillers Corporation, who together produce one of every six bottles of wine in South Africa and nearly eighty percent of the country’s brandy.

Among other interests, the Rupert Group also owns South Africa’s second-largest chain of private hospitals, the Medi-Clinic Corporation, with 3,900 beds.

Conservation involvement

Dr. Rupert is a founding member of the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and it was in his role as the president of the organisation’s South African branch that he took a lead in the creation of trans frontier parks (also known as trans-frontier conservation areas (TFCAs) or “peace parks”), such as the Lubombo Trans-Frontier Conservation Area.

With an initial grant of R1,2 million (US$ 260,000) from the Rupert Nature Foundation, the Peace Parks Foundation was established on 1 February 1997 in order to facilitate the establishment of TFCAs in southern Africa. Nelson Mandela, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and Anton Rupert are the founding patrons of the Peace Parks Foundation. (Prince Bernhard is another founding member of the WWF and a close personal friend of Dr. Rupert.)

I liked the bit about owning hospitals since he is a tobacco baron!

If you own a Cartier Watch, or a Mount Blanc pen, amongst other luxuries, then you have one (or more) of his products!

Follow the link below for Wikipedia…


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