Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler-Thumann and Georg Schaeffler.Source: Schaeffler Group, Bloomberg
The majority shareholders of German car-parts maker Continental AG have lost about $16 billion (R219 billion) , more than half of their combined wealth so far this year.

Continental Chairman Georg Schaeffler and his mother Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler-Thumann, the vice chairman, have seen their fortunes tumble 53 percent after the company warned that extra costs and tough business conditions in Europe and Asia would weigh on profits. A senior executive said this week that the challenges will persist into 2019.

They’re now worth a combined $14.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, after the biggest wealth drop this year among Europe’s richest families. 

The mother and son also control Schaeffler AG, a publicly traded German engineering group that has faced similar pressures as Continental, the world’s second-largest car-parts maker. Shares of both companies have plunged more than 40 percent this year.

Continental faces “a perfect storm,” Bloomberg Intelligence auto analysts Michael Dean and Gillian Davis said in a research note this month. Continental is now valued at about $30 billion, compared with $28.6 billion for O’Reilly Automotive Inc, a less profitable US rival.

Georg Schaeffler, 54, inherited 80 percent of the ball-bearing business that carries his surname when his father died in 1996, while his mother inherited the rest, and then orchestrated one of Germany’s largest hostile takeovers by acquiring Continental a decade ago for more than $17 billion.

He’s now the world’s 113th-richest person, according to the Bloomberg index.

Germany has the most billionaires within Europe among the world’s 500 richest people, including Bayerische Motoren Werke AG major shareholder Susanne Klatten and SAP SE co-founder Hasso Plattner.

BLOOMBERG