Family business: Entrepreneurial families complete the split-up of the Oetker

In doing so, “the shareholder groups are overcoming their different ideas about the management and strategy of the Oetker Group,” it was said at the end of July.

Rudolf-August Oetker, who died in 2007, had given all eight children from three marriages 12.5 percent each to the company and ensured that the five older siblings could not automatically outvote the three younger ones. The five heirs of the patriarch’s first two marriages have so far held 62.5 percent of the company.

On the other side are the three children from the third marriage: Alfred, Carl Ferdinand and Julia Oetker have owned 37.5 percent of the company so far.

Over the years, therefore, different opinions had emerged. The separation agreement, which all heirs (see graphic) had signed in the summer, is now being implemented.

In 2020, Oetker had a turnover of 7.3 billion euros and comprised well over 400 companies. In July it was clear that the food division with baking powder and frozen pizza would go to the five heirs from Rudolf-August Oetker’s first and second marriage.

This family line is also allowed to use the “Dr. Oetker ”continue to use. You are also taking over the Radeberger Group, Germany’s largest brewery, which also includes the most recent acquisition of a message in a bottle.

In this group, which in the future will probably generate around 5.5 billion euros and employ around 40,000 people including messages in a bottle, Albrecht Christmann has been managing the group as a non-family but personally liable partner since 2017 and with Ute Gerbaulet he has a wife at his side as chief financial officer .

The Oetker siblings present their new management body

The three children from the patriarch’s third marriage take over the sparkling wine and spirits manufacturers Henkell Freixenet as well as the Oetker Hotel Management Company (OHMC), which operates under the brand name “Oetker Collection”, and other companies. But the breakdown is complicated and not all companies are known.

The three youngest siblings announced in a separate message on Tuesday afternoon that their group of companies called “Geschwister Oetker” had started successfully. As the Handelsblatt reported at the end of July, the brothers Alfred and Ferdinand Oetker, as Co-CEOs, will take over the management of the new group with eight companies and, according to their own statements, more than 8,000 employees. According to their own statements, the companies together generated almost two billion euros.

Alfred Oetker speaks of a “new chapter in the history of the Oetker family” and told the Handelsblatt: “We are now looking ahead and are looking forward to working with an excellent team to shape the future of the new Oetker Group.” His brother Ferdinand added: “Today is an important day for our group of companies.” The companies have a strong market position and a motivated management team and many ideas for the future.

While Alfred Oetker is primarily responsible for the Henkell Freixenet sparkling wine cellar and the art collection, his brother Ferdinand will be responsible for the Budenheim chemical factory, the real estate and Martin Braun baking agents. Harald Schaub, the former managing director of Chemische Fabrik Budenheim, will move into the holding as CFO and will be the contact person for hotel activities at holding level. The two brothers will also make new appointments to the board of trustees of the Rudolf-August Oetker Foundation, with Alfred Oetker as chairman.

An expanded management team of seven people in total will be complemented by the managing director of Henkell Freixenet, Andreas Brokemper, Detlev Krüger from the baking agent company Martin Braun, Stefan Lihl, the new CEO of the Budenheim chemical factory and the CEO of the hotel management company Oetker Collection Timo Grünert.

So far there are no female managing directors in this extended management group and Julia ‧Oetker will be solely involved in the new company as a “partner in the strategic direction of the new group”.


The administrative headquarters of the Oetker Beteiligungen siblings will initially remain in Bielefeld. In perspective, however, it is quite possible that one would move closer to the companies belonging to the new group with the administrative headquarters, according to company-related circles. But nobody wanted to comment when asked.

At its peak, the Oetker Group had sales of almost twelve billion euros. After the sale of the shipping company Hamburg Süd to competitor ‧Maersk in 2017 for 3.7 billion euros, the company also had high liquid funds. The sale of the Lampe bank to the private bank Hauck & Aufhäuser, which was agreed at the beginning of 2020, is now legally binding.

A person who is familiar with what was happening told the Handelsblatt: “From a human and entrepreneurial point of view, it is an exemption for family, managers, employees and all other stakeholders.” First, you have to bring calm to both companies and then get going.

Tom Rüsen, Director of the Witten Institute for Family Businesses, does not want to comment on Oetker. However, he has accompanied many family businesses in the development of family strategies, which can also result in real divisions.

“A real division has the chance of a fresh start for the respective company, but also for the individual family parts themselves.” You can bring your own values ​​and priorities to life.

The most important thing, however, is that maintaining the company should take precedence over the respective equality expectations and sensitivities. “You need a sense of proportion,” said Rüsen. Divisions are also a means of building the future with smaller groups of shareholders.

He has just dealt extensively with the management of dynastic entrepreneurial families and has published a book, using examples such as Haniel, Freudenberg and Henkel and Merck to show the special challenges that large entrepreneurial families have to overcome.

More: The real division is correct – what family businesses can learn from it

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