Susanne Hanna Ursula Klatten, born on April 28, 1962, in Bad Homburg, West Germany, is not just another billionaire heiress. She is the embodiment of empowerment, philanthropy, and a strong sense of responsibility towards her family's business empire and the world at large. As of 2023, Susanne Klatten's net worth was estimated at an astonishing $23.4 billion, making her the richest woman in Germany and the 50th richest person in the world according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Klatten's journey to success began with her education and early career experiences. After earning a degree in business finance, she ventured into the advertising world, working for the renowned advertising agency Young & Rubicam in Frankfurt from 1981 to 1983. Her appetite for knowledge and self-improvement led her to further studies in marketing and management at the University of Buckingham, and she later completed an MBA from IMD Business School in Lausanne with a specialisation in advertising.
Klatten gained valuable business experience during her time in London, working with institutions like Dresdner Bank, the Munich branch of management consultants McKinsey, and the esteemed bank Bankhaus Reuschel & Co. Her dedication and hard work established her as a respected professional in the corporate world.
Upon her father's passing, Susanne Klatten inherited his 50.1% stake in Altana, a prominent pharmaceutical and chemicals manufacturer. She played an essential role in Altana's transformation into a world-class corporation, making it a prominent member of the German DAX list of top 30 companies. In 2006, Altana AG divested its pharmaceutical activities to Nycomed for a staggering €4.5 billion, distributing the proceeds as a dividend to shareholders while retaining its speciality chemicals business. Klatten remained the majority shareholder, and in 2009, she acquired almost all the remaining shares she did not already own in Altana.
Susanne Klatten's influence also extends to Landa Digital Printing, a company of the Israeli entrepreneur and inventor Benny Landa, specialising in digital printing and nanotechnology. Altana and SKion, both wholly owned by Susanne Klatten, jointly hold a 46% stake in Landa Digital Printing since 2018.
In addition to Altana, Klatten holds a significant stake in BMW. Her father initially bequeathed her a 12.50% share, and after her mother's passing in 2015, her stake in BMW increased to 19.2%. Notably, she has been serving on the supervisory board of BMW since 1997 alongside her brother Stefan Quandt.
The Quandt family's business history during World War II was shrouded in secrecy until the documentary film "The Silence of the Quandts" by German public broadcaster ARD revealed their involvement with Nazi activities and the use of slave labourers in their factories. This revelation led to the Quandt family's decision to fund a research project conducted by historian Joachim Scholtyseck, which concluded that the Quandts were "linked inseparably with the crimes of the Nazis." Despite these findings, no compensation, apology, or memorial has been established at the site of their factories, and BMW was not implicated in the report.
Susanne Klatten's life has not been without challenges. In 1978, she and her mother, Johanna Quandt, were the target of a kidnapping attempt thwarted by the police.
Her personal life is equally intriguing. She met her husband, Jan Klatten, during an internship at BMW in Regensburg, where he worked as an engineer. It is said that during their initial courtship, she used the name Kant and only revealed her true identity when their relationship grew stronger. They married in 1990 in Kitzbühel and have three children. However, in 2018, the couple separated.
Susanne Klatten's commitment to society is also evident through her involvement with the University Council of the Technical University of Munich since 2005. In 2007, she was awarded the Bavarian Order of Merit, recognising her contributions to the state. She is a notable donor to the Christian Democratic Union, a centre-right political party.
In 2007, Susanne Klatten faced a highly publicised blackmail attempt by Helg "Russak" Sgarbi, a Swiss national who threatened to release materials depicting their alleged affair. Sgarbi and his accomplice, Italian hotel owner Ernano Barretta, were arrested and faced legal consequences.
Susanne Hanna Ursula Klatten's life is a multifaceted journey marked by wealth, responsibility, challenges, and unwavering commitment to her family's legacy and the betterment of society. Her remarkable net worth is just one aspect of her identity. Susanne Klatten stands as a symbol of empowerment, philanthropy, and resilience, proving that her influence extends far beyond the realm of finances.