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What is Susanne Klatten’s Net Worth?
Susanne Klatten is a German billionaire heiress and businesswoman who has a net worth of $26 billion. Susanne Klatten is the daughter of the late Nazi industrialist Herbert Quandt. With major holdings in BMW and the chemical company Altana, she is the richest woman in Germany and one of the richest people on the planet. Klatten also owns shares in the graphite maker SGL Carbon. Susanne owns 21% of BMW.
Early Life and Nazi Connection
Susanne Klatten was born as Susanne Quandt on April 28, 1962 in Bad Homburg, West Germany to Nazi industrialist Herbert Quandt. Herbert’s grandfather Guenther took an inherited family business and grew it into an empire. During World War I, Guenther’s company became the largest clothing manufacturer in Germany by producing military uniforms. When WWI was over, Guenther bought a company that made batteries, a company that made sewing machines, a silverware manufacturer and a large stake in car maker Daimler (modern-day Mercedes). Guenther was married to a woman named Magda Ritshcel from 1921 – 1927. Guenther had a son from a previous marriage. That son was Herbert, Susanne’s father. In 1923, Magda – Herbert’s stepmother – married the extremely-evil Nazi leader Joseph Goebbels.
During World War II, Guenther’s companies capitalized on many war time opportunities. They produced batteries for German submarines, firearms, ammunition, missiles and rocket launchers. During the war the company’s growth was primarily fueled by 50,000 slave laborers including POWs and members of concentration camps.
After the war, Harald was released from the allied POW camp and Guenther spent time in an internment camp for Nazi sympathizers. Seven years later, Guenther Quandt died and left his thriving empire to sons Harald and Herbert. Harald and Herbert spent the next decade expanding the empire to incredible heights. Herbert purchased 46.7% of BMW in the early 1960s. Harald sold the family’s 14% stake in Daimler to the Kuwait Investment Authority for $1 billion in 1974.
Susanne has a younger brother named Stefan Quandt. Susanne and Stefan inherited their father’s stakes in BMW and chemical-maker Altana upon his death in 1982.
As a young adult in the early 1980s, Klatten worked for the ad agency Young & Rubicam in Frankfurt. After that, she took a course in marketing and management at the University of Buckingham, and subsequently earned her MBA from the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Early in her career, Klatten gained business experience working for the Frankfurt advertising agency Young & Rubicam and the London branch of Dresdner Bank. She also worked at the Munich branch of the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, and at Bankhaus Reuschel & Co. From 1989 to 1990, Klatten worked as a management board assistant at Hubert Burda Media. She went on to take seats on various corporate boards over the years.
Upon the death of her father in 1982, Klatten inherited his 50.1% stake in the pharmaceutical and chemical company Altana. Sitting on the company’s supervisory board, she helped transform Altana into a major corporation listed on the German DAX. In 2006, the company sold its pharmaceutical activities to Nycomed, leaving only its specialty chemical business. Altana kept its listing on the stock exchange, while Klatten remained the majority shareholder. Later, in 2009, she acquired most of the shares she didn’t own. Klatten also owns SKion.
Klatten’s other major business holding is in the auto manufacturer BMW, in which she acquired a 12.5% stake upon her father’s death. Notably, her father had helped save the company from bankruptcy in the late 1950s and early 60s. When her mother passed away in 2015, Klatten had her stake in BMW rise to 19.2%. Today she owns 21%. She also sits on the supervisory board of the company alongside her brother Stefan. Among her other significant holdings, Klatten owns shares in the German graphite maker SGL Carbon.
In 2007, Klatten was blackmailed by Helg Sgarbi, a Swiss national who threatened to release materials depicting him and Klatten carrying out an affair. Sgarbi had been charged with similar blackmail schemes against women in the past, and in early 2009 was arrested and arraigned in Germany. He was ultimately sentenced to six years in jail. Sgarbi had an accomplice named Ernano Barretta who allegedly filmed him and Klatten with hidden cameras; he was also arrested, and sentenced to seven years in prison in 2012.
While doing an internship at BMW in Regensburg, Germany under the name Susanne Kant, Klatten met engineer Jan Klatten. The pair got married in 1990 in Kitzbühel, and settled in Munich. They had three children before divorcing in 2018. Overall, Klatten is an extremely private person, rarely appearing in public or giving interviews.
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