Nicholas Oppenheimer

Tito Titus Mboweni
September 15, 2016
Claude Dauphin
Claude Dauphin
September 4, 2016

Nicholas Oppenheimer

  • Company: De Beers (Former Chairman 1998 – 2012)
  • Year of birth: 1945
  • Country of residence: South Africa

Main achievements in the field:

Achieved Directorship of De Beers in 1978

Appointed Deputy Chairman of De Beers in 1985

Appointed Chairman of the De Beers Group in 1998

Helped to establish the Kimberley Process certification program in 2003

Obtained an Honorary Doctorate in Technology from the University of Oxford in 2003

Obtained a Doctorate in Technology (honoris causa) from the Technikon Witwatersrand in South Africa in 2003, the first ever recipient of such a doctorate

Awarded the Presidential Order of Honor from His Excellency the President of the Republic of Botswana, Festus Mogae in 2004

Obtained an Honorary Fellowship from the London Business School in 2009

Previous places of work:

Director of Anglo American in 1974

Deputy Chairman of Central Selling Organization (now Diamond Trading Company) in 1984

Chairman of the Diamond Trading Company in 1985

Deputy Chairman of the newly-formed, Swiss-based De Beers Centenary AG in 1990


Nicky Oppenheimer was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is the third generation of the Oppenheimer mining dynasty. His grandfather, Ernest Oppenheimer, founded Anglo American in 1917. He studied philosophy, politics, and economics at Oxford and obtained his Master of Arts in 1965


Nicky Oppenheimer joined the family business, the Anglo American Corporation, in 1968.

He began his career as his father's personal assistant in the gold and diamonds division.

He was appointed a Director at Anglo American in 1974 and became Deputy Chairman in 1983.

He subsequently resigned as Deputy Chairman in 2001 but continued to serve on the board as a non-executive director until 2011.

He sold his 40% stake in DeBeers to mining conglomerate, Anglo American, for $5.1 billion in cash in 2012 and exited the business. He was listed as one of the Intellidex Richest Men in South Africa the same year.


Nicky Oppenheimer is dedicated to using his significant success to help those who are less fortunate. He established the Brenthurst Foundation in 2005 with his son, Jonathan Oppenheimer, in order to contribute to the debate around strategies and policies for strengthening Africa's economic performance whilst enabling inclusive and sustainable development.

Activities are focused on encouraging key decision-makers and experts to share experiences and insights at private meetings and seminars, delivering practical policy advice to governments, and generating new thinking. The main purpose of these activities is to address Africa’s development challenges through a global network of analysts drawn from Europe, Central and South America, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Through the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, Nicky disburses $6 million a year to education causes. He also funds research groups in various areas. One of these groups has conducted studies on organic farming and the national environment for 16 years.

Nicky Oppenheimer is a passionate supporter of wilderness conservation. He and his son, Jonathan, own South Africa’s largest private game reserve, Tswalu Kalahari. The family took ownership in 1998, stopped Hunting on the reserve, and gave the land back to nature. In 2014, Tswalu Kalahari was declared a Nature Reserve and given formal protection.