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Nicky Oppenheimer – Biography Of The Third Richest Man in Africa

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Nicholas F. Oppenheimer known is as Nicky Oppenheimer South African businessman and philanthropist. He was the former chairman of De Beers Diamond Mining Company.

For 85 years until 2012, the Oppenheimer family occupied a controlling spot in the world’s diamond trade. In addition, Nicky Oppenheimer is the heir to his father’s fortune. He sold a 40% stake in De Beers to Anglo American for $5.1billion in cash in 2012.

See Also: Manal Rostom – Biography of the first Nike Hijabi Running Ambassador

Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don't Have An Idea
Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don’t Have An Idea

In 2018, Nicky was listed on the Sunday Times Rich List as the 23rd richest person in the United Kingdom, with a reported fortune of E5.5billion. In addition, he was also listed on Forbes Rich List for 2019 with reported fortune of US$7.3 billion.

Nicky Oppenheimer Background

Nicky was born on 8 June 1945 to Bridget and Harry Oppenheimer. He is the grandson of Ernest Oppenheimer, the founder of Anglo American. Nicky’s father was of German Jewish descent. He attended Harrow School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, earning an Oxford MA.

In 1968, Nicky married Orcillia “Strilli” Lasch, the daughter of Helli Lasch. They have a son together named Jonathan Oppenheimer.

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Nicky Oppenheimer

Nicky Oppenheimer Career

In 1968, Oppenheimer joined Anglo American and became a director in 1974. He later became deputy chairman in 1983. In 2001, he resigned but remained a non-executive director until 2011.

In 1984, Nicky was appointed deputy chairman of Central Selling Organisation which is now known as Diamond Trading Company. thereafter, he was appointed Deputy Chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines in 1985.

That same year, he was appointed chairman of the Diamond Trading company. Between 1998 until 2012, he was the Chairman of the De Beers Group. Nicky retired from De Beers when the family stake was sold to Anglo American.

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Over, Luke; Oppenheimer, Nicky; Tyrrell, Chris (illustrator) (2001). Waltham Place: and its Surrounding Parish. ISBN 0-9541669-0-6


Nicky Oppenheimer’s family is involved in several philanthropic activities. Basically, Nicky focuses on preserving the cultural heritage of the Southern African region. He is also interested in improving education, health, arts and conserving nature.

In 2005, Nicky and his son, Jonathan Oppenheimer founded the Brenthurst
Foundation. The foundation focuses on contributing to the debate around strategies and policies for enhancing Africa’s economic performance and enabling sustainable development.

Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days
Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days

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Furthermore, in 2006, the Oppenheimer family partnered with De Beers to establish the Diamond Route. This action was taken to maximise the potential of their properties for conservation, research and environmental awareness purposes.

The Diamond Route links 8 sites across northern South Africa. It stretches from Namaqualand on the west coast, to kimberly, north to Tswalu in the Kalahari, and to the Brenthurst Gardens in Johannesburg. Then, eastwards to Ezemvelo Nature Reserve in Limpopo Province. Since 2015, Nicky Oppenheimer is also a Rhodes Trustee.

In 2014, Oppenheimer started Fireblade Aviation in Johannesburg. It operates chartered flights with its fleet of 3 planes and 2 helicopters. Nicky owns at least 720 square miles of conservation land across South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.

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Awards And Recognitions

  • Ranked as the richest person in South Africa on Forbes Rich list, 2019
  • Honorary doctorate, Technikon Witwatersrand, 2003
  • Presidential Order of Honor from the former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, 2004
  • Honorary Fellowship, London Business School, 2009

See Also: Clare Akamanzi – Biography And Life Of A Successful Leader

Nicky Oppenheimer

Nicky Oppenheimer Quotes

“I’m a great believer that if you know how to operate in Africa, there are unbelievable opportunities.”

“Diamonds are intrinsically worthless, except for the deep psychological need they fill.”

“Because I am an African, I reserve the right to say that Africa does not exist simply to make people in this country (the UK), or anywhere else in the world, feel good about themselves.”

“It is only through developing and maximising all its natural resources that a sustainable future for Africa and its people can be secured.”

“Diamond are a key component in the campaign to make poverty history.”

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“We all need to become more customer-focused and recognise the power of marketing to sell more diamonds.”

“I am one of the affluent rich living the good life. But, I like to think that I am doing my bit to resolve the problems of Africa and I’m certainly committed to Africa in the long run.”

“It’s much nicer to be known as Mr. Nice Guy than Mr. Nasty Guy. But you’ve got to have lines – and when you hit the line, that’s the end of the story, nice guy or not.”

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“I don’t think Africa gets as much credit as it should have on the world stage. People tend to think of us as coming from the dark continent, where nothing good goes on. That’s not true. A huge amount of, as I say, entrepreneurship goes on.”

“Businesses need certainty, to see clearly the rules of engagement for investing in South Africa.”

See Also: Jennifer Riria – Biography Of The CEO Of Kenya Women Holding Group

Entrepreneurial Lessons From Nicky Oppenheimer

1. Consistency

Nicky is the heir to his father’s fortune and has been able to keep things in motion till now. Their legacy is able to last and transferred because they built a structure and have succession plans in place.

We always emphasise the importance of building a structure for your business at Entrepreneurs.ng. A business with structure is transferable and will stand the taste of time.

2. Maintain Relationships

Nicky Oppenheimer maintained the family’s business relationship with De Beer until he retired from the company. Relationships are key to succeeding in business. You have to continually build mutually beneficial relationships if you want to succeed in business.

3. Give Back

Businesses or individuals who are socially responsible stay long in business. A business should have a corporate social responsibility desk through which they give back to the society which has kept them in business.

As an entrepreneur, you have to be corporate socially responsible. You should not wait until you’re a Dangote before you give back to society. There are so many creative ways you can give back to society. It could be something as little as hosting free training.

Are you doing something extra-ordinary and you want the world to hear about it? Reach out to us today to tell your story.

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