The multi-billion pound business empire of one of Germany’s richest families is to be split up because of disputes between the heirs.
The Dr Oetker group first made its fortune with baking powder but today controls an empire of frozen foods, luxury hotels, beer and sparkling wines.
The company, which is valued at €8bn (£6.8bn) and employs more than 36,000 people, is still owned by the Oetker family. But in recent years it has been riven by infighting between the eight children of patriarch Rudolf August Oetker by three different marriages.
The company announced it is to split and divide its assets between the two warring factions. The five older heirs, known in company circles as the G5, will get the food division, the Radeberger brewery, the Coppenrath & Wiese confectionery and the Bottle Post drinks delivery service. The three younger heirs, known as the G3, will get the luxury hotels Le Bristol in Paris and Château St Martin in Venice, the sparkling wine division, which includes Freixenet cava, the Martin Braun baking division, and the family art collection.
Dr Oetker was founded in 1891 by Dr August Oetker, a chemist who developed his own baking powder. But the company was radically expanded by his grandson, Rudolf August, a former Nazi SS officer who diversified into different businesses.
Rudolf August died in 2007 at the age of 90 and left the company to his eight children. He left each heir 12.5 per cent of the company and a veto on business decisions in an attempt to avoid divisions. But the dramatic age differences between his children — the oldest, Richard, is 70 while the youngest, Julia Johanna, is 42 — did not help and they quickly split into warring camps.
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