Nicholas “Nicky” F. Oppenheimer was born on 8th June 1945 in South Africa. He is a 71 year old South African businessman and philanthropist of German-Jewish origin. He is the former Chairman of De Beers diamond miningcompany, a Diamond Trading Company. He was listed under top 200 billionaires in the world in 2016 and he stood at rank 3nd among Africa’s Billionaires in 2018. His interests involve reading crime novels, relaxing with his dogs and playing cricket.
Early life and Career:
He went to Harrow School and Christ Church, Oxford. He graduated in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He started working as his Father’s assistant and gradually in 1974; he became the Director of Anglo American and De Beers. He joined the Anglo American Corporation in 1968 as the Personal Assistant to the Chairman (his father) and worked in the Gold and Diamond Divisions. He faced certain challenges by other markets which made him expand his business into retailing.
He was the heir of De Beers’s diamond miningcompany. During an auction in the year 2016, the rare Oppenheimer Blue diamond, was sold for $57.5 million which set a record for the most expensive diamond sold at an auction. The Oppenheimer family maintained a dominating place in the world’s diamond trade for a really long time. In 2012, Nicholas Oppenheimer sold his 40% stake in DeBeers to mining corporate ‘Anglo American’ for $5.1 billion. He is also a non-executive director of Anglo American Corporation.
Harry Frederick Oppenheimer is the father of Nicholas F. Oppenheimer. He was a prominent businessman in South Africa and one of the world’s richest men. In the year 2004, he was voted 60th in the SABC3’s Great South Africans. He was the chairman of Anglo American Corporation for 25 years and chairman of De Beers for 27 years until he retired and passed on the position to his heir, Nicky. He also spent some time as the Member of Parliament for Kimberley (1948 to 1957) and became the opposition spokesman on economics, finance and constitutional affairs. He died in the year 2000.
His net worth is $7 Billion+ according to Forbes, as of January, 2018. He is the third richest person in Africa, according to Forbes. Forbes ranked him at 174th spot in the list of world billionaires in 2017 and 3rd in Africa the same year.
Lessons to learn from NICKY OPPENHEIMER
1. Believe in Africa
Oppenheimer has controversially stated in the past that Africa is suffering from “donation fatigue”, and that there are ways for the continent to go it alone without help from western governments and NGOs.
“Because I am an African I reserve the right to say that Africa does not exist simply to make people in the UK, or anywhere else in the developed world, feel good about themselves,” he said back in 2005. This is something he reiterated after announcing the sale of his stake in De Beer’s.
“I’m a great believer that, if you know how to operate in Africa, there are unbelievable opportunities.”
2. Forget emotion
In choosing to sell his family’s stake in De Beer’s, Oppenheimer has proven the importance of thinking with the head rather than the heart in matters of business.
“Obviously very emotional for all of us in the family when we debated whether this was the right thing to do or not,” he said upon announcing the news. “You know, it’s a 100 years of history – 1902 when my grandfather came out here first to join the diamond business in Kimberley. So indeed very emotional. But at the end of the day we in the family decided this was indeed the right thing to do, and it was a unanimous decision. And in a sense you’ve got to move on and now’s the time to look to the future and think what exciting things we can do in Africa in the future.”
3. Be down to earth
Businessmen all over the world will tell you that the trick to success is not getting ideas above your station or losing touch with your customer base. Oppenheimer, comments about aid aside, appears to be the master of discretion and being down-to-earth.
Unlike many of the business elite, he dislikes opera or theatre – “I’m a philistine” – and he is quick to quash suggestions that he collects antique books. “No, that was my father,” he says.
4. Know the art of recovery
After struggling through the recession as demand for luxury goods sagged, De Beers appears to have righted the ship. Revenues surged 53 per cent to nearly $5.9 billion in 2010 from a dip in 2009. Such impressive performance has led some analysts to assert that the offer from Anglo American undervalues De Beers, though Oppenheimer denies this. “Anglo American is the natural home for our stake,” he says.
Even at 65, the future is something that is very clearly on Oppenheimer’s mind and he is planning on reinvesting the money made from the sale to Anglo-American once the deal is completed later this year.
“We’re going to be obviously looking at investments,” he says. “That’s a compensation for the sadness and the emotional feeling we have about De Beer’s. We will be looking for opportunities and we are very Africa-orientated and we are going to be looking, obviously, around the world, but there will be a very clear African bias to what we hope to do in the future.”
These five pointers might as well be some of the greatest advice contained in an article on this blog for African Entrepreneurs. Our major aim here at Investodia is to get you motivated and to give you the technical know-how on how to go about success in your entrepreneurship endeavours. Reading these points alone won't help, you will have to recite them every day and make sure you are practicing them to the best of your abilities. We wish you nothing but success in years to come.
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