Otto Beisheim’s Death Shouldn’t Impact Metro Group Structure

The company co-founder, who was its third-largest shareholder, committed suicide on Monday.

BERLIN — The suicide Monday of Otto Beisheim, the co-founder of Metro and third-largest Metro Group shareholder, is not expected to change the stakeholder structure of the German cash and carry, department store, hypermarket and electronics retail group.


Diagnosed with an incurable illness, Beisheim, 89, committed suicide in his home in Bavaria. He held a 9.97 percent stake in Metro Group, which generated 2012 sales of 66.7 billion euros, or $85.78 billion at average exchange, according to preliminary figures. A spokesperson for the Beisheim Group said there were no plans to sell the stake.


The billionaire ranked 22 among Germany’s richest people. His net worth, which has never been officially reported, is estimated at between $3.3 billion to $4.5 billion. A widower with no children, Beisheim’s assets will be divided between two foundations in his name that support various cultural and business projects.


Beisheim, who is credited with introducing the cash and carry retail concept to Germany in the Sixties, opened the first Metro Cash and Carry in Mülheim an der Ruhr in 1964. The warehouse-like stores, which sell to trade customers, such as restaurants, as well as to the general public, remain the Metro Group’s core business — contributing almost half of company sales.


Beisheim was always a man in the background, actively avoiding contact with the press. In the early Nineties, he made a major donation to the private WHU business school in Coblenz, Germany, which thereafter became known as the Otto Beisheim School of Management. His name also graces the Beisheim Center in Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz, which he erected in 2004. The complex includes hotels from the Ritz Carlton and Marriot Groups.