An old feud among Aldi heirs is escalating as a grandson of co-founder Theo Albrecht is suing some family members. In the background, the complex financial structure of the retailer plays a role.
Nicolay Albrecht, a grandson of Theo Albrecht, who founded discount chain Aldi with his brother Karl in 1961, is suing his mother, three of his sisters and their lawyer. He accuses them of stealing millions from one of the three foundations that house the family fortune, writes German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. It is a new episode in a family feud that has been dragging on since the death of Berthold Albrecht (son of Theo) in 2012: since then, the family has been trying to exclude his widow Babette because she is said to have a too flamboyant lifestyle.
Aldi Nord is controlled by three foundations: the Markus Foundation owns 61% of the shares, the Lukas and Jakobus Foundation each 19.5%. The power of family members in these foundations has been severely curtailed since a court ruling in 2017: professional managers now determine day-to-day management. However, some family members do not simply comply with the ruling and continue to control the Jakobus foundations. That explains Nicolay Albrecht's recent initiative.
Aldi Nord's tripartite financial structure was originally devised to protect the company against hostile takeovers. However, if the three foundations do not work together and continue to invest together in Aldi Nord, the retailer is in danger of becoming paralysed, observers fear.