Aldi billionaire's death announced belatedly

Sat, Dec 8, 2012, 00:00

The German billionaire behind the Aldi supermarket chain has died aged 58.

Berthold Albrecht, who became one of Europe’s richest men after he and his brother Theo jnr inherited the discount supermarket chain, died last month, his family announced yesterday. He is survived by his wife and five children.

The family has guarded its privacy fiercely since the kidnapping of Theo for 17 days in 1971. He was eventually released after a ransom of about $3 million (€2.3 million) was paid. True to his principles, he then went to court to have the ransom classified as a tax-deductible business expense.

The brothers’ fortune was estimated at $17.8 billion by Forbes, placing them 32nd in its list of billionaires. Their wealth came courtesy of their father, Aldi co-founder Theo Albrecht, who died at 88 in 2010.

After the second World War, Theo and his brother Karl turned their mother’s small grocery store into one of the nation’s largest food retail chains.

The family has taken a back seat from day-to-day operations since 1993, when Theo snr appointed managers from outside the family. Aldi has estimated worldwide annual turnover of about €50 billion.