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# 283 Ludwig Merckle $7.79B

Random fact: Mother, Ruth, is a descendant of Germany's Schwenk cement family.


Merckle is the biggest shareholder in Heidelberg Materials, the German building products manufacturer formerly known as HeidelbergCement. The Heidelberg-based company had revenue of 18.7 billion euros ($22.1 billion) in 2021. Merckle's family also owns Phoenix Group, a closely held pharmaceutical wholesaler.

As of :
Last change +$94.0M ( +1.2%)
YTD change +$650M ( +9.1%)
Biggest asset Phoenix Pharmahandel
Country / Region Germany
Age 57
Industry Industrial
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Ludwig Merckle's net worth of $7.79B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

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Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Merckle's fortune is derived from his 26.7% stake in Heidelberg Materials, the publicly traded building products company formerly known as HeidelbergCement. He owns shares in the Heidelberg, Germany-based manufacturer through Spohn Cement, according to its 2021 annual report.

He also has a stake in Phoenix Group, a closely held pharmaceutical wholesaler based in Mannheim, Germany. The company had revenue of 28.2 billion euros ($31.7 billion) in the year ended Jan. 31, 2022.

Phoenix is valued using the average enterprise value-to-Ebitda multiple of three publicly traded peer companies: Cardinal Health, Uniphar and McKesson Europe. The company is fully-owned by the Merckle family, according to its 2022 annual report, and the billionaire is credited with a 44% stake based on a historical analysis of company filings.

Cash holdings are based on an analysis of insider transactions, dividends, taxes and market performance.


Family: Married, 2 children

Ludwig Merckle was born on June 8, 1965, to Ruth and Adolf Merckle. He studied economics and computer science at the University of Mannheim and, in 1997, joined the family business that was started by his great-grandfather in 1881 as a chemicals wholesaler in southeastern Germany's Sudetenland.

After World War II, the family fled Sudetenland, a region near the Czech and Austrian borders, and moved to Blaubeuren in the mountains of southern West Germany. The Merckles formed a new company and expanded it from wholesale chemicals to pharmaceutical production. Adolf took over the family business in 1967. During the next four decades, he further expanded operations to include cement, building materials, all-terrain vehicles, metal works and textiles.

Merckle built a majority stake in publicly traded HeidelbergCement and, in late 2008, helped fund the company's planned acquisition of British cementmaker, Hanson, using a $1 billion bank loan backed by Heidelberg shares and held by the family's main investment company, VEM Vermoegensverwaltung. The deal followed a "low three-digit million euros" short bet against Volkswagen shares that VEM had entered earlier in the year, according to a person close to the family who asked not to be identified because the information is private. 

The two moves faltered at the onset of the 2008 global financial crisis when, in October, VW shares rose fourfold after Porsche announced it was increasing its stake in the carmaker to 75% and, a month later, Heidelberg shares fell the most in 19 years, leading banks to call in the loan backed by Heidelberg shares.

VEM was forced to negotiate a $1.4 billion refinancing package in January 2009, two days after Adolf committed suicide, leaving his oldest son, Ludwig, to resolve the crisis. The billionaire structured a loan package with a group of about 40 banks that included Commerzbank, Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Deutsche Bank and HVB Group, and also sold some of the family's most valuable assets, including generic medicine manufacturer maker Ratiopharm and more than half of its stake in HeidelbergCement.

Merckle lives in Blaubeuren with his wife and two children.

  • 1881 Great-grandfather forms drugs company in Germany.
  • 1934 Father, Adolf Merckle, is born in Dresden, Germany.
  • 1967 Family pharmaceutical business passes from founder to Adolf.
  • 1993 Begins two year stint at Roland Berger Strategic Consulting.
  • 2009 Father commits suicide on train tracks in hometown of Blaubeuren, Germany.
  • 2009 Ludwig Merckle takes over family business.
  • 2010 Sells Ratiopharm to Teva Pharmaceutical for about $5 billion.
  • 2015 Buys out minority shareholders in Kaessbohrer Gelaendefahrzeug.