Bloomberg Billionaires Index

View profiles for each of the world’s 500 richest people, see the biggest movers, and compare fortunes or track returns.

#202 Ludwig Merckle $7.63B

Random fact: HeidelbergCement has been publicly traded for more than 125 years.

Overview

Merckle is the chairman of VEM Vermoegensverwaltung, a Zossen, Germany-based investment company that controls 44 percent of Phoenix Pharmahandel, a closely held pharmaceutical wholesaler. He also has a 25 percent stake in HeidelbergCement, which had revenue of 15.2 billion euros ($16.8 billion) in 2016.

As of Sept. 21, 2017:
Last change +$123M (+1.6%)
YTD change +$269M (+3.7%)
Industry Industrial
Biggest asset HEI GY Equity
Citizenship Germany
Age 52
Wealth Inherited
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Ludwig Merckle's net worth of $7.63B can buy ...

0
troy ounces of gold
0
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

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

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Merckle's fortune is derived from his 25.5 percent stake in HeidelbergCement. He owns shares in the Heidelberg, Germany-based manufacturer through Vemos 2 Holding, according to its 2016 annual report.

He also owns Phoenix Pharmahandel, a closely held pharmaceutical wholesaler based in Mannheim, Germany. The company had revenue of 23.2 billion euros ($25.7 billion) in the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2016, and is valued using the average enterprise value-to-Ebitda and price-to-earnings multiples of three publicly traded peer companies: UDG Healthcare, Celesio and Cardinal Health. The billionaire is credited with 44 percent of the company, according to Orbis, a database published by Bureau van Dijk.

Merckle owns Kaessbohrer Gelaendefahrzeug, a closely held manufacturer of snow vehicles, which is valued based on his 93 percent stake and the company's share price prior to its delisting in November 2015.

Merckle's father, Adolf, committed suicide in 2009, after VEM Vermoegensverwaltung, the family's investment company, almost went bankrupt at the onset of the 2008 global financial crisis. Heidelberg shares plunged the most in 19 years when banks called in a $1 billion loan to VEM that was backed by the stock. The family members agreed to a $1.4 billion refinancing package, which included a $550 million bridge loan, and lost some of their biggest assets, including Ratiopharm to Teva Pharmaceutical for $5 billion in 2010, and more than half of their stake in Heidelberg.

Biography

Birthdate: 6/8/1965
Family: Married, 2 children
Education: University of Mannheim

Ludwig Merckle was born on June 8, 1965, to Ruth and Adolf Merckle. He studied economics and computer science at the University of Mannheim and, in 1997, joined the family business that was started by his great-grandfather in 1881 as a chemicals wholesaler in southeastern Germany's Sudentenland.

After World War II, the family fled Sudetenland, a region near the Czech and Austrian borders, and moved to Blaubeuren in the mountains of southern West Germany. The Merckles formed a new company and expanded it from wholesale chemicals to pharmaceutical production. Adolf took over the family business in 1967. During the next four decades, he further expanded operations to include cement, building materials, all-terrain vehicles, metal works and textiles.

Merckle built a majority stake in publicly traded HeidelbergCement and, in late 2008, helped fund the company's planned acquisition of British cementmaker, Hanson, using a $1 billion bank loan backed by Heidelberg shares and held by the family's main investment company, VEM Vermoegensverwaltung. The deal followed a "low three-digit million euros" short bet against Volkswagen shares that VEM had entered earlier in the year, according to a person close to the family who asked not to be identified because the information is private. 

The two moves faltered at the onset of the 2008 global financial crisis when, in October, VW shares rose fourfold after Porsche announced it was increasing its stake in the carmaker to 75 percent and, a month later, Heidelberg shares fell the most in 19 years, leading banks to call in the loan backed by Heidelberg shares.

VEM was forced to negotiate a $1.4 billion refinancing package in January 2009, two days after Adolf committed suicide, leaving his oldest son, Ludwig, to resolve the crisis. The billionaire structured a loan package with a group of about 40 banks that included Commerzbank, Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Deutsche Bank and HVB Group, and also sold some of the family's most valuable assets, including generic medicine manufacturer maker Ratiopharm and more than half of its stake in HeidelbergCement.

Merckle lives in Blaubeuren with his wife and two children.

Milestones
  • 1881 Great-grandfather forms drugs company in Germany.
  • 1934 Father, Adolf Merckle, is born in Dresden, Germany.
  • 1967 Family pharmaceutical business passes from founder to Adolf.
  • 1993 Begins two year stint at Roland Berger Strategic Consulting.
  • 2009 Father commits suicide on train tracks in hometown of Blaubeuren, Germany.
  • 2009 Ludwig Merckle takes over family business.
  • 2010 Sells Ratiopharm to Teva Pharmaceutial for about $5 billion.
  • 2015 Buys out minority shareholders in Kaessbohrer Gelaendefahrzeug.