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.'
Early life and education
Imerman was born to a Jewish family in Johannesburg, South Africa. His grandfather was a Russian Jew who emigrated to South Africa after the Russian revolution. His father, Samuel Imerman, was a chemist. He attended college seeking a degree in business law but never completed his studies. He was conscripted into the South African Army during Apartheid and fought in the South African Border War. Thereafter he worked for his father's chemical brokering business and then started his own company purchasing surplus chemicals and reselling them.
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. The pharmaceutical business boomed and in 1987, he listed his company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. He then expanded into food distribution, listing an additional three companies on the stock exchange in South Africa; 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. 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, tripling the value of the business to £400 million. In 1999, he sold his remaining stake in the fruit company and moved to London.
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. Immerman increased his ownership interest from 35% to 60% by buying out 60 shareholding employees. 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.
He remains chairman and CEO of Del Monte Royal Foods Limited of South Africa. He is chairman of Vasari Global, an investment company that specialises in turnarounds.
In 1981, he married South African Gina Gervis; they had three children. They later divorced. In 2001, he married Lisa Tchenguiz, sister of his business partners Robert Tchenguiz and Vincent Tchenguiz, at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St Johns Wood, London. They separated in December 2008. She was previously married to BBC Radio 1 disc jockey, Gary Davies. 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. Vivian is now living with his first wife Gina, the mother of his three grown-up children.