JANUARY 20, 2006
South African tycoon Anton Rupert has died at the age of 89. Rupert was the man who turned Rothmans into a global brand and led the company into motor racing after his Rembrandt company, which was started in 1948 in South Africa, bought the Rothmans brand in 1972. The company had been involved in various sports before then but under the new management Rothmans became increasingly involved, notably with the Rothmans Ford Rally Team between 1979 and 1981. The company was briefly in F1 in 1982 with March but then switched to Opel in rallying and then Porsche in sports car racing. The Rothmans Porsche combination was a great success and extended to raid rallies as well before the decision was taken to move to Formula 1 with Williams in 1994. The result of the partnership were World Championships for Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve before the company withdrew and concentrated on its next step forward, merging with British American Tobacco (BAT), the world's second-largest cigarette producer, and ending up as BAT's largest shareholder. In addition to his activities with Rothmans he also established Richemont, the luxury branded-goods company which owns Cartier, Mont Blanc, Alfred Dunhill; Piaget, Baume & Mercier and Vacheron Constantin.
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