South Africa’s richest man Johann Rupert has seen a $290-million decline in his net worth over the past six days, as investors continued to closely monitor the corporate governance battle between Richemont, his Swiss luxury goods holding company, and Bluebell Capital Partners, an activist investor that had pushed to change the company’s board structure.
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Rupert’s net worth has dropped by more than $290 million, from $10.2 billion on Aug. 11, exactly six days ago, to $9.91 billion at the time of writing this report.
The multimillion-dollar drop in his net worth can be attributed to the performance of his 9.14-percent stake in Richemont, which has been significantly impacted by the decline in the company’s share price in the past six days.
Richemont’s shares have fallen more than two percent in less than a week since Bluebell Capital Partners filed a motion to change the company’s board structure, claiming that Rupert, the company’s founder and chairman, benefits from the board’s composition and is not representative of public shareholders.
Bluebell’s plans for a board seat elicited an immediate response from Rupert, who stated that he will not be “blackmailed” into changing the company’s board structure.
Despite owning only a 9.14-percent stake in Richemont, which is worth $7.12 billion and accounts for the majority of his wealth, the South African billionaire controls 50 percent of the company’s voting rights through ordinary traded A-category shares.
Rupert stated on Monday that shareholders holding ordinary traded A-category shares have the right to board representation, but he believes Bluebell, which has a “relatively small stake in the company,” lacks the legitimacy to represent all “A” shareholders on the board.
He asked shareholders to reject the appointment of Bluebell Co-Founder Francesco Trapani at the upcoming shareholders meeting on Sept. 7, citing his relations to rival LVMH Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton, as part of the move to thwart Bluebell’s plans for a board seat.
Trapani was the CEO of Bulgari when it was purchased by LVMH in 2011, and he was a member of LVMH’s board of directors from 2011 to 2016, where he also served as an adviser to the company’s chairman, Bernard Arnault.