Johann Rupert 2008


Johann Peter Rupert was born in Stellenbosch on 1 June 1950 as the eldest son of business tycoon Anton Rupert and his wife Huberte. He attended the University of Stellenbosch, studying economics and company law but did not complete his studies, choosing rather to pursue a career in business.

Johann Rupert served his business apprenticeship in New York, where he worked for Chase Manhattan for two years and for Lazard Freres for three years. In 1979, he returned to South Africa. Among his many achievements, one of the earliest and most remarkable is Rupert’s founding of the Rand Merchant Bank in 1979 at just 29 years of age.  One of his most enduring legacies achieved in the same year, was starting the Small Business Development Corporation.  This is a company that boasts having created a half a million jobs since its inception. 

Subsequent to inheriting the family empire built by his father, Johann Rupert has significantly expanded and developed the original business to the extent that he is now the owner or executive chairperson or a major stakeholder in numerous national and multinational companies.  He is the head of the Swiss-based luxury group, Richemont which boasts an impressive stable of brands including Cartier, Chloe and Dunhill.  He is also chairperson of  South African based companies Venfin and Remgro. He owns one of South Africa’s most prestigious golfing estates in Mpumalanga, as well as two wine estates in Franschhoek.  In addition to these business enterprises, he has played a major role in the establishment of Vodacom, ETV and the Tracker Network (Pty) Ltd in South Africa.  Rupert has also invested substantially in the British American Tobacco Company, Absa, FirstRand, Medi-Clinic, Dorbyl, Nampak, Gencor and Afrox Healthcare, amongst others.  Collectively, these achievements and investments have made him instrumental in creating thousands of jobs and promoting general economic empowerment in South Africa.

Over the years, and as a result of his business acumen, his professionalism and his expertise, Johann Rupert has been involved in local and global community engagement in various capacities.  This includes serving on numerous advisory boards including the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, as a council member of The South African Foundation, a trustee of The Institute of Directors in Southern Africa and of Business South Africa, and on the Daimler Chrysler International Advisory Board.

In addition, Johann Rupert is an active promoter of the educational and transformational aspects of South African community life.  He co-founded the Sports Science Institute, together with Morné du Plessis and Dr Tim Noakes, and he helped create the Laureus Foundation which funds the development of sport for marginalised groups.  Furthermore, he serves as chairperson of the South African PGA Tour and of the South African Golf Development Board.  He has been a trustee of the Southern African Nature Foundation and “Die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap and Kuns.”

Some of Rupert’s most noteworthy accolades include being elected “Businessman of the Year” by The Sunday Times in 1988 and 1996, and being voted “Business Leader of the Year” by Die Burger and the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce in 1990.  In 1992 he was one of only two hundred “Global Leaders of Tomorrow” chosen by the World Economic Forum. In 2000 he was singled out as South Africa’s “Most Influential Business Leader” by CEOs of the top hundred listed companies.

In recognition of his substantial contribution to the economic health of South Africa and the philanthropic way in which he has used his wealth in promoting job opportunities and corporate professionalism, and in supporting the environment, the arts, sport, education and social upliftment, it is an honour for NMMU to confer the degree of Doctor of Commerce (Honoris Causa) on JOHANN PETER RUPERT.