Johann Rupert’s going nowhere – neither are other Remgro companies

Remgro’s unbundling of its FirstRand shares evoked much commentary by SA investment pundits. Among the most popular speculations is that it signals Remgro chairman Johann Rupert’s exit from South Africa. And his company’s FirstRand unbundling to soon be repeated at 42% owned MediClinic, Distell (30%) and RCL Foods (77%).

Rupert’s response will disappoint critics. On the phone yesterday from Leopard Creek, where the SA golf season’s finale starts Wednesday, Rupert rejected such punditry as uninformed. He said Remgro CEO Jannie Durant described the FirstRand unbundling best when likening it to a grown up child leaving home.

Says Rupert: “It’s been 25 years since we had any influence at FirstRand. The stake has grown to be worth 40% of Remgro’s NAV. It’s irresponsible to have such a big chunk of your company’s assets in a single holding over which you do not have nor seek to have any influence. That’s why we’re unbundling it to shareholders.”

Mediclinic, Distell and RCL, he says, are like younger children with a way to full maturity, so unbundling is not contemplated. Rupert’s relocation chatter, too, is bunk: “It’s well known I’m the biggest taxpayer in SA. And that our companies have not taken a cent of capital out the country. My dogs live in Somerset West. And so do I.”

*If you missed Rational Radio yesterday you can listen to the full show here.