Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#230 Hansjoerg Wyss $6.87B

Random fact: Has donated more than $200 million to Harvard University.

Overview

Wyss helped build Synthes, a Swiss medical device company, into the world's largest maker of bone fracture and bone trauma treatment devices. The company was acquired for $19.7 billion by Johnson & Johnson in June 2012, with Wyss receiving almost 100 million shares of Johnson & Johnson, and more than $3 billion in cash.

As of July 21, 2017:
Last change +$25.0M (+0.4%)
YTD change +$646M (+10.4%)
Industry Health Care
Biggest asset Cash
Citizenship Switzerland
Age 81
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Hansjoerg Wyss's net worth of $6.87B can buy ...

0
troy ounces of gold
0
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

0%
of the GDP of the United States
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of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
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of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
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of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
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of U.S. existing home sales
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times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Wyss's fortune is derived from the proceeds he received following the $19.7 billion acquisition of Synthes by Johnson & Johnson in June 2012. Prior to the transaction, Wyss owned almost 57 million shares of Synthes, which traded on the Swiss stock exchange. According to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the deal gave Synthes shareholders 1.72 shares of J & J and about $58 in cash for each share of Synthes. Wyss collected 97.4 million shares of J & J and more than $3.2 billion in cash in the deal.

Wyss is calculated in the net worth analysis to have sold all of his shares in Johnson & Johnson by Dec. 31, 2012. His intention to sell down his stake was disclosed in public exhibits to a 2014 U.S. Senate report on offshore tax evasion and suspected accounting violations. The report focused on the actions of Zurich-based Credit Suisse in moving assets between the U.S. and Europe. 

Wyss, while not identified by name in the report and not accused of any wrongdoing, later confirmed to a Swiss newspaper that he was "Client 5", whose assets were among those looked at by the Senate subcommittee in its investigation into Credit Suisse.

The value of his cash investments is based on an analysis of dividends, taxes and market performance. It was updated on Dec. 13, 2016 to reflect that Wyss donated $330 million to charitable causes in 2015, according to the Wyss Foundation website.

He holds 11 percent of Novocure directly, according to the company's 2016 proxy statement, and 10 percent of Molecular Partners directly, according to an April 11, 2017 filing to the Swiss Exchange.

The billionaire declined to comment on the net wealth calculation through his personal assistant Debbie Davis.

Biography

Birthdate: 1935
Family: Single, 1 child
Education: 1965, Harvard Business School, MBA Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Master's Degree

Hansjoerg Wyss was born in the Swiss capital of Bern, to a mechanical calculator salesman, in 1935. After graduating from the Swiss Institute of Technology with a master's degree in civil and structural engineering, he worked as a project manager for Chrysler in Pakistan, Turkey and the Philippines. He enrolled in a MBA program at Harvard Business School in 1963, and spent the decade following his graduation working in various industries, including textiles and airplane sales.

Wyss joined Synthes USA in 1977, after meeting Martin Allgoewer, a Swiss surgeon who had founded a medical teaching organization, AO/ASIF, with three partners in 1958. The doctors agreed to let Wyss sell the group's products in the Americas. Over the following three decades, Wyss built the company into the world's largest maker of devices to treat bone fractures and trauma. The company merged with AO/ASIF licensees Stratec, in 1999, and Mathys in 2004. He stepped down as CEO in 2007, retaining his role as chairman. Johnson & Johnson, the world’s biggest health-care products company, announced it was acquiring Synthes in a cash and stock deal worth $19.7 billion in April 2011.

The billionaire started the Wyss Foundation to aid land and environmental conservation in the U.S. in 1989. He's chairman of the Beyeler Foundation, which has a private collection of modern art in Switzerland, and co-founder of the AO Foundation which has become the world's largest medical teaching organization. Wyss lives in Wyoming and has one daughter.

Milestones
  • 1935 Born in Bern, Switzerland, to a calculator salesman.
  • 1958 Worked for Colorado Highway Department as a student.
  • 1959 Graduates with engineering degree from Swiss Technology Institute.
  • 1965 Receives MBA from Harvard Business School.
  • 1989 Establishes Wyss Foundation; supports land conservation in the U.S.
  • 1999 Stratec Medical merges with Synthes to form Synthes-Stratec Inc.
  • 2000 Buys 900 acres on Halter Ranch Vineyard in Paso Robles, California.
  • 2012 Johnson & Johnson acquires Synthes for $19 billion.