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Not so rich

October 6, 2009

A new survey shows that the economic slump has cut the number of German billionaires to below 100 and, in some cases, dramatically whittled down the fortunes of the country's richest people.

A woman holds a glass of champagne
Germany's well-heeled are feeling the pinchImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

In a special edition titled "The 300 Richest Germans," Manager Magazin said on Tuesday that Europe's largest economy now has 99 individuals or families with assets of at least a billion euros ($1.5 billion), down from 122 a year ago.

In total, the fortune of the 100 wealthiest Germans plummeted by 12 percent to 285.6 billion euros over the past year, the report said.

The Porsche family was the worst hit, dropping off the list of Germany's 10 richest people.

The magazine said the sports-car maker lost 11 billion euros as part of its failed attempt to take over Volkswagen. The Porsches, with an estimated fortune of 4.5 billion euros, dropped to 13th place from their previous third position.

Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler, head of the Schaeffler group
Schaeffler's wealth declined by a whopping 90 percentImage: AP

Other big losers include Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler, the head of ball-bearing maker Schaeffler Group. Schaeffler slid to 260th from 15th after her fortune slumped 92.4 percent in value following a takeover of car-parts maker Continental.

Madeleine Schickedanz, the main shareholder in insolvent German retailer Arcandor, dropped from the top 300 altogether.

Aldi brothers remain the richest

The ranking, published for the ninth year in a row, was topped, as in previous years, by Karl and Theo Albrecht, the brothers who founded discount retailer Aldi.

Karl Albrecht is the wealthiest man in Germany with an estimated fortune of 17.35 billion euros, followed by his brother Theo with 16.75 billion euros, according to the list.

Others in the top 10 include Dieter Schwarz, owner of the Lidl supermarket chain; the Otto mail order firm's family owners; the Riemann family, part owners of consumer goods multinational Reckitt Benckiser; and BMW heiress Susanne Klatten.

A customer with a shopping cart at an Aldi supermarket
The owners of the Aldi empire remain fabulously wealthyImage: dpa

Germany has just emerged from its worst recession since World War Two, but experts warn that the recovery is still fragile. The export-reliant economy has been battered by a global slump in world trade. The government stepped in this summer to prop up ailing banks and bail out a few leading companies.

Europe's largest economy also faces a massive budget deficit - expected to reach six percent of gross domestic product (GDP) next year. Federal new borrowing has been earmarked at a record 86 billion euros for next year.

Editor: Nancy Isenson