Stephen Cranston Writer & columnist

I am not a big believer in sons inheriting a business from their fathers. It is not just that well-qualified daughters are often overlooked — Wendy Appelbaum was the most suitable of Donald Gordon’s children to take over Liberty but wasn’t even considered — but that in most cases nepotism is not in the interests of shareholders. Think of the electronics giant that Altron was when Bill Venter handed over to his sons and the niche small cap it has become. Raymond Ackerman, to his credit, worked out after a few years that his son Gareth was better suited to the chair’s oversight role than to the cut and thrust of front-line retailing. There are some exceptions. It is hard to imagine who would have done a better job of building Anglo American than Ernest Oppenheimer’s son Harry, even if the conglomerate he built eventually proved too diffuse for modern tastes. Anton Rupert, as a consummate marketer, was the ideal person to build up the tobacco business at Rembrandt, and his son Johann, ...

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