(Bloomberg) -- Germany’s richest man is now the largest shareholder in Deutsche Lufthansa AG after reinvesting a chunk of a fortune he made in logistics into Europe’s biggest airline.
Klaus-Michael Kuehne raised his stake in Lufthansa to 15.01%, according to a filing late Wednesday, overtaking the German government as the carrier’s biggest shareholder. The government has been selling down its interest after the airline repaid a bailout to help it survive Covid-19.
Kuehne, who also expressed interested in taking a board seat at Lufthansa, is worth $35.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He is honorary chairman and majority owner of Kuehne + Nagel, the world’s largest sea-freight forwarder.
While Kuehne hasn’t commented on why he’s building his Lufthansa stake, several major shipping companies are branching out into commercial aviation, especially firms with cargo operations like Lufthansa. And logistics companies have enjoyed soaring profits over recent years amid a freight boom, leading several to reinvest profits into airlines.
Kuehne’s holding company also owns a 30% stake in German shipping firm Hapag-Lloyd AG, a company that until now hasn’t made an attempt to acquire aviation operations. Lufthansa’s cargo division operates a fleet of 12 large cargo aircraft and also makes use of the belly space in the passenger division’s jets.
French logistics giant CMA CGM SA in May agreed to acquire a stake in Air France-KLM, while container giant MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company SA has made a joint bid with Lufthansa to acquire Italia Trasporto Aereo, known as ITA, the successor to failed carrier Alitalia.
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