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Johann Rupert Overtakes Oppenheimer as Richest S. African

Cie. Financiere Richemont SA Chairman Johann Rupert
Cie. Financiere Richemont SA Chairman Johann Rupert, left, said, “There are things I want to see and want to do.” Photographer: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for Laureus

Cie. Financiere Richemont SA Chairman Johann Rupert, who said yesterday he will take a 12-month sabbatical after leading the company for 25 years, has overtaken Nicky Oppenheimer as the richest South African.

Rupert is worth $8.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s wealthiest people updated yesterday at 5:30 p.m. in New York. That makes him the world’s 148th richest person. Oppenheimer’s wealth is estimated at $7.4 billion, ranking him the 169th wealthiest.

Rupert, born in Johannesburg, is the oldest son of billionaire industrialist Anton Rupert, who founded the tobacco company Rembrandt Group in 1948. Richemont, based in Geneva, is the second-biggest luxury-goods company with brands including Montblanc pens and Chloe fashion.

The company’s shares surged 7.6 percent to a record yesterday after it increased its dividend by 82 percent to 1 Swiss franc a share. The stock has gained 24 percent this year, valuing the company at about 51 billion swiss francs ($53 billion).

“There are things I want to see and want to do,” Rupert, 62, said in a call with reporters about his one-year leave. He said he may travel to Antarctica and had a list of 50 books he’d like to read. Rupert said he’ll return after the year off.

Oppenheimer, 67, is the third generation of a mining dynasty started by his grandfather, Ernest Oppenheimer, who founded Anglo American in 1917. Twelve years later he took control of De Beers, building it into the world’s biggest diamond business.

Nicky Oppenheimer sold his family’s 40 percent stake in De Beers to Anglo American Plc for $5.1 billion last year. He owns a 1.8 percent stake in Anglo American, valued at almost 400 million pounds ($610 million).

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