a fragile fortress
Has Johann Rupert lost his mojo?
Johann Rupert, who created the modern Richemont and Remgro, has always leant heavily on tobacco. But the crash in British American Tobacco in the past few months has severely hurt his family investment vehicle, Reinet, and has led to awkward questions about whether he has lost his legendary touch as a visionary investor who is able to pick the right companies
Johann Rupert, the tycoon whose prediction of a global crash shortly before the 2008 financial crisis earned him the moniker "Rupert the Bear", is now paying the price for a long-held vice at specialist investment company Reinet. Reinet was formed in 2008 and is listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, Euronext in Amsterdam and the JSE. But its share price has plunged nearly 30% since touching R285 in mid-September last year. Sure, this performance is not as devastating as that of the JSE’s other large internationally inclined investment fund, Brait. But still, this is not the kind of performance you would usually associate with a vehicle which Rupert set up specifically to protect capital. The problem, of course, is that Reinet’s key investment remains British American Tobacco (BAT). And partly thanks to plans by regulators in the US to outlaw menthol cigarettes, BAT’s share price has halved within a year. It’s a blow to Rupert who, as the de facto asset manager of Reinet, is perce...