Clemens Tönnies Return of the Sausage Wars

Meat processing magnate Clemens Tönnies took on his estranged nephew Robert in court again this week, over allegations he violated a non-compete clause and built up a “shadow kingdom.”
Clemens Tönnies, whose net worth is valued at €2 billion, is also chairman of German soccer premier league club Schalke 04.

One of the longest-running family feuds in Germany’s corporate world has flared up again. After attempts to reach an out-of-court settlement in late 2015 failed, billionaire sausage mogul Clemens Tönnies went to court this week to fight allegations made by his nephew Robert Tönnies that he violated a non-compete clause when he bought another sausage company in 1998. The original clause dates back to 1985.

While the elder Mr. Tönnies argued that the clause is no longer applicable, his nephew alleged that his uncle built a “shadow kingdom” without his knowledge.

The estranged relatives each own 50 percent of Tönnies, Germany’s largest meat-processing company, which employs over 10,000 people and had sales of €5.6 billion, or $6 billion, in 2015.

The relatives have been involved in a larger power struggle for the past five years, with Robert Tönnies attempting to regain a 5-percent stake he previously donated to his uncle. If the younger Mr. Tönnies succeeds, he would hold 55 percent of the company and thus the majority of the group.