Vivian Imerman

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Vivian Saul Imerman
Born (1955-09-21) 21 September 1955 (age 63)
Johannesburg, South Africa
Residence London
Nationality South Africa
Occupation businessman
Net worth £450 million (2008)[1]
Spouse(s) Gina Gervis
Lisa Tchenguiz (divorced)
Children four
--three with Gervis
--one with Tchenguiz
Parent(s) Samuel Imerman

Vivian Saul Imerman (born 21 September 1955) is a South-African born businessman and former CEO of Del Monte International and Whyte and Mackay. He was nicknamed 'The Man from Del Monte.'[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Imerman was born to a Jewish family in Johannesburg, South Africa.[1] His grandfather was a Russian Jew who emigrated to South Africa after the Russian revolution.[1] His father, Samuel Imerman, was a chemist.[1] He attended college seeking a degree in business law but never completed his studies.[1] He was conscripted into the South African Army during Apartheid and fought in the South African Border War.[1] Thereafter he worked for his father's chemical brokering business and then started his own company purchasing surplus chemicals and reselling them.[1]


In the early 1980s, he expanded his business first into the purchase of damaged goods (which he would then repair and on-sell for a profit); and later into the distribution of branded pharmaceuticals.[1] The pharmaceutical business boomed and in 1987, he listed his company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.[1] He then expanded into food distribution, listing an additional three companies on the stock exchange in South Africa;[1] and in the late 1980s, when Western companies were divesting themselves of assets in South Africa due to Apartheid, he went on a buying spree, purchasing assets at prices far below their real value. In 1989, he bought the South African assets of Nabisco and the Ferro chemical group.[1] The Nabisco purchase gave him the option of purchasing Del Monte International which he did in 1993 backed by an investment from South African mining company Anglo American plc; he later purchased 50% of Del Monte Asia. His purchase was timely and profits grew tenfold. In 1995, he listed Del Monte International on the Singapore Stock Exchange,[1] tripling the value of the business to £400 million.[3] In 1999, he sold his remaining stake in the fruit company[2] and moved to London.[1]

In London, he met brothers Robert Tchenguiz and Vincent Tchenguiz; they partnered and purchased a minority interest in the distiller Kyndal (now Whyte and Mackay) with a £190 million loan from German investment bank WestLB. Immerman served first as executive chairman and then chief executive where went on an aggressive cost cutting program.[1] Immerman increased his ownership interest from 35% to 60% by buying out 60 shareholding employees.[1] In 2005, Immerman and the Tchenguiz brothers purchased the remaining interest in the firm and in 2007, they sold the company to Indian-based United Spirits Limited for £595 million of which Imerman received £380 million.[1][4][5]

He remains chairman and CEO of Del Monte Royal Foods Limited of South Africa.[3] He is chairman of Vasari Global, an investment company that specialises in turnarounds.[6]

Personal life[edit]

In 1981,[1] he married South African Gina Gervis; they had three children.[7] They later divorced.[1] In 2001, he married Lisa Tchenguiz, sister of his business partners Robert Tchenguiz and Vincent Tchenguiz,[1] at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St Johns Wood, London. [7] They separated in December 2008. She was previously married to BBC Radio 1 disc jockey, Gary Davies.[8] They had one daughter (born 2002) and in 2013, they divorced with Lisa only receiving £15 million due to her signing of a prenuptial agreement.[9][10][11] Vivian is now living with his first wife Gina, the mother of his three grown-up children.[12]