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FB Roundup: Jörg G. Bucherer, Andreas and Thomas Struengmann, Barclay family

FB Roundup: Jörg G. Bucherer, Andreas and Thomas Struengmann, Barclay family
In this week’s FB Roundup, Swiss watch magnate Jörg G. Bucherer passes away; the Struengmann brothers cut their holding in BioNTech; and the Barclay family bid £1 billion to regain ownership of the Telegraph newspaper group.
By Glen Ferris
Jörg G. Bucherer

Swiss watch magnate Jörg G. Bucherer passes away
Jörg G. Bucherer, the secretive heir behind the luxury Bucherer watch and jewellery retail chain, has passed away at the age of 87, just months after he sold his eponymous family business to Rolex.

A spokesman made the announcement that the third-generation billionaire, who had famously refused to ever be interviewed, had died but shared no further details at this point.

The news comes in the wake of the sale of Bucherer AG to Rolex for an undisclosed sum in August this year. A move “that stunned the world of high-end watch retailing”, according to Fortune.

“The octogenarian Bucherer’s decision to dispose of the closely held family business to its most important partner took the industry by surprise partly because of the intense secrecy surrounding himself and the two companies, whose histories have been closely entwined for decades. In a statement about the agreement, Rolex said Jörg Bucherer’s choice was made ‘in the absence of direct descendants.’”

Bucherer AG, which was founded by Jörg’s grandfather, had been selling high-end timepieces and for more than a century by the time of the sale. As Jörg had no heirs, the Rolex buyout put an end to family control of the business which sold such high-end makes as Chopard, Blancpain, Rolex and its own Carl F. Bucherer brand.

According to the company’s website, “the Bucherer business traces its roots to 1888 when entrepreneur Carl-Friedrich Bucherer and his wife Luise opened a shop in Lucerne [Switzerland]. 

“Their sons Ernst and Carl Eduard joined the business in the early 1920s, with Ernst reaching an agreement with Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf in 1924 to add the brand to its product line. German-born Wilsdorf created a Geneva-based foundation in his name in 1945 that took over Rolex’s ownership. He died in 1960 and also didn’t have any direct descendants. 

“Jörg took over management in 1977 and drove its expansion, pushing into Austria in the 1980s and then Germany a decade later. Bucherer opened a flagship store in Paris in 2013 and also moved into London, Copenhagen and the US.”

Andreas and Thomas Struengmann

Struengmann brothers cut holding in BioNTech after 550% gain on investment
The billionaire German brothers who made a fortune investing in a Covid-19 vaccine firm are cutting their major holding following a drop in demand.

According to regulatory disclosures, the Struengmanns have sold around $110 million of BioNTech SE shares this year and have also filed to unload almost double that sum over the coming month.

The twin siblings were seed investors in BioNTech and are still the German company’s biggest shareholders with a roughly 43% stake ahead of the upcoming sales (according to Bloomberg). During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, BioNTech partnered with Pfizer Inc. to develop the first Covid vaccine to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The Struengmanns are selling their stock as demand wanes for the Covid shot, “leading it to slash its forecast for this year’s vaccine sales by 20%,” reported Bloomberg. “Still, the brothers are poised to lock in major gains after first providing BioNTech with $186 million in seed money when it was founded in 2008. The shares have climbed more than 550% since its US initial public offering in 2019 and were up as much as 9.1% Monday after it reported an unexpected profit.”

The 73-year-old brothers are worth a combined $23.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, having also diversified their wealth into real estate, energy and finance.


Barclay family bid £1 billion to regain ownership of the Telegraph newspaper group
The Barclay family have put forward an offer to regain control Telegraph Media Group (TMG) before an imminent auction of the influential daily broadsheet and its sister publications. 

The heirs of billionaire identical twin brothers Sir David Barclay and Sir Frederick Barclay – who, until the death of David in 2021, had joint business interests primarily in media, retail and property – have put forward a bid of £1 billion, having secured financing from investors based in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

The Barclay family had originally acquired TMG, which includes the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph and the Spectator in 2004, but were forced to hand it back to Lloyds bank in June this year after the family failed to reach an agreement over more than £1 billion in unpaid debt. The latest offer is an increase on a previous bid of £725 million put forward last month. 

According to Sky News, “the newspapers' former owners wrote to Lloyds Banking Group again last week to repeat an offer to settle the debt for £1 billion.

“Lloyds is said to have responded immediately by informing the Barclays that they could either repay more than £1.1 billion of borrowing in full or participate in a recently launched auction of the broadsheet newspaper titles.”

According to The Guardian, “other potential bidders include Axel Springer, which lost out to the Japanese conglomerate Nikkei in the takeover battle of the Financial Times in 2015, the Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere, and Sir Paul Marshall, the founder of the London-based hedge fund Marshall Wace and a minority investor in GB News. Marshall is forming a consortium that includes the US hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin.”

The auction, for which a date is yet to be set, will be overseen by investment bank Goldman Sachs, 

As reported by Sky News, “Lloyds' decision to press ahead with an auction – which is expected to generate bids of around £600m – has angered the Barclays amid suggestions that the sources of their funding could prompt ministers to launch a probe on public interest grounds.

“Until June, the newspapers were chaired by Aidan Barclay – the nephew of Sir Frederick Barclay, the octogenarian who along with his late twin Sir David engineered the takeover of the Telegraph 19 years ago.”

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