A lot can happen in two-and-a-half years.
In early 2018, Georg Schaeffler became Germany’s richest person as shares of Continental AG, the vehicle supplier in which he and his mother -- Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler-Thumann -- own a major stake, surged in price. At the time, their combined fortune totaled $35 billion.
They are now worth about a quarter of that. That’s partly due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has slowed auto production and significantly curbed sales, as well as the industry’s broader shift toward electric cars.
The Schaefflers ended each of the last two years less well-off than they began, and 2020 may be the same. Both have lost about a quarter of their wealth so far this year, according the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a listing of the world’s 500 richest people.
While they are still very wealthy, the slump in the Schaefflers’ fortune is among the biggest on the Bloomberg index and highlights the slowdown in global vehicle production. Georg, 55, and Maria-Elisabeth, 78, also control Schaeffler AG, the German engineering group that has faced similar pressures as Continental. Shares in both companies have tumbled by more than a fifth this year.
A spokesman for the Schaefflers declined to comment.