Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#374 Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler $4.83B

Random fact: Attended medical school at Vienna University.


Schaeffler is vice-chairwoman and co-owner of Schaeffler AG, a manufacturer of ball bearings and automotive supplies. The Herzogenaurach, Germany-based company employees more than 85,000 people and had revenue of 13.3 billion euros ($14.8 billion) in 2016. She also owns 9 percent of auto-parts maker Continental.

As of July 23, 2017:
Last change -$150M (-3.0%)
YTD change +$352M (+7.9%)
Industry Industrial
Biggest asset CON GY Equity
Citizenship Germany
Age 75
Wealth Inherited
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler's net worth of $4.83B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

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

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

Schaeffler's fortune is derived from her 20 percent stake in INA-Holding Schaeffler, a Herzogenaurach, Germany-based entity through which she controls interests in Continental, a car parts maker, and Schaeffler AG, a maker of ball bearings. Her son, Georg, owns the remaining 80 percent.

The billionaire and her son acquired a majority of publicly traded Continental for more than $17 billion in 2008. They collectively hold 46 percent of the company, according to the company's website in May 2017, and the 2016 annual report.

The rest of her fortune is derived from Schaeffler AG, which began trading after an October 2015 initial public offering. All of the non-trading voting shares are held by IHO Verwaltungs, according to the 2016 annual report. This entity is fully owned by INA-Holding, which is 80 percent owned by Georg and 20 percent by his mother, according to information published on the Orbis database, as of May 2017. The Schaeffler family no longer hold any non-voting shares in Schaeffler AG, according to the 2016 annual report.

IHO Verwaltungs had debt of 4.1 billion euros, as of Dec. 31, 2016, according to the Schaeffler AG's website. A liability is included to reflect the billionaire's 20 percent share of this debt minus proceeds of the non-voting share sale in 2016.

Christoph Beumelburg, a spokesman at Schaeffler AG, declined to comment on the net wealth calculation.


Birthdate: 8/17/1941
Family: Married, 1 child
Education: 1963, Graduated, Medicine, Universitat Wien

Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler was born in Prague in 1941. She fled Czechoslovakia with her family to Austria after World War II. She studied medicine in Vienna and married Georg Schaeffler, Sr., the founder of a namesake ball bearing manufacturer, in 1963.

Schaeffler inherited 20 percent of the family company when her husband died in 1996. With her son, Georg Jr., she orchestrated one of Germany's largest hostile takeovers, acquiring Continental for more than $17 billion in 2008. The takeover backfired when Continental shareholders accepted the Schaefflers' offer to buy stock as markets collapsed, leaving them with more than 90 percent of the shares and $15 billion in debt. Mother and son restructured the debt and now control almost half of Continental. She lives in Herzogenaurach, Germany.

  • 1941 Born in Prague and later moves to Vienna, where she attends medical school.
  • 1949 Georg Schaeffler develops new type of ball bearing.
  • 1963 Marries Georg Schaeffler, founder of a namesake ball bearing manufacturer.
  • 1964 Son Georg born in Erlangen, Germany.
  • 1996 Inherits 20 percent of family company when husband dies.
  • 2008 Buys majority of Continental in hostile takeover bid.
  • 2014 Marries Juergen Thumann.
  • 2015 Plans IPO of Schaeffler AG to pay down debt.