Retail billionaire Karl-Erivan Haub missing after ski trip

Solar powered lights are pictured along the Hoernli ridge on the Matterhorn in Zermatt
Search and rescue has been working since Saturday, but things are not looking good. Source: Reuters

The head of Tengelmann group, Karl-Erivan Haub, has been reported missing after the 58-year-old failed to return to his Swiss resort after a day of skiing on Matterhorn Mountain. His family, one of the wealthiest in Germany, notified authorities on Saturday, but fresh snow, poor visibility and bad weather on the Italian side have made the search difficult.

Walter Milan, a spokesman for the Italian mountain rescue service told the German news wire DPA, that they are continuing the search despite bad conditions. “The search is very difficult, the area is very large and the tracks are covered,” Mr. Milan said. There are also a good many crevasses on the Italian side of the Matterhorn. Enlisting the help of a helicopter is not an option at the moment.

The authorities believe Mr. Haub, a ski enthusiast, was traveling alone. He was in the mountains to train for a racing tournament known as the Patrouille des Glaciers that is set to take place next week.

Bilanz Pk Tengelmann
The 58-year-old worked at Nestlé und McKinsey before taking over the reigns at the family-owned business in 2000. Source: DPA

A letter from Tengelmann’s brother Christian to company employees on Tuesday said that the Tengelmann family was not giving up hope that Karl-Erivan, who is a very experienced skier and mountaineer, would be found. But arrangements are being made for his long term absence, with daily business operations running smoothly and orderly.

The CEO is the fifth generation of family to run the Tengelmann group first founded in 1867. Mr. Haub took over the company from his father, Erivan Haub, in 2000. The company’s legacy is entwined with the Kaiser’s supermarket chain, which was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2016 and was divided among rivals Rewe and Edeka after a major anti-trust battle.

Today it is responsible for three well-known chains: OBI home improvement, the fashion discounter KiK and Tedi, a chain that sells everything from soap to light bulbs to pans and power tools. Tengelmann also owns stakes in several startups, including online fashion retailer Zalando, and Delivery Hero, a food order and delivery service, similar to Grubhub in the US.

Christine Coester is an editor with Handelsblatt Global. To contact the author:

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