Family sees no hope for missing German billionaire

Haub has run the Tengelmann retail group since 2000 Keystone

The family of German retail boss Karl-Erivan Haub, who failed to return from an off-piste skiing tour in the Alps last weekend, say they have given up hope of seeing him alive. The search has now been stopped.

This content was published on April 13, 2018 minutes
Associated Press and Reuters/ug/ilj

Haub, heir to the Tengelmann retail empire, took off for a ski excursion on Saturday but did not return to his hotel in the Swiss resort of Zermatt. 

The Tengelmann retail group said on behalf of Karl-Erivan Haub's family in a statementExternal link on Friday that there was no longer any hope for him after a week "in the extreme climate conditions of a glacier area". 

The search to find him alive has been stopped, but the search for Haub's body would continue and the company would pay all costs for that, the statement continued.

"This accident is a terrible tragedy both for the Haub family and the whole family company, and one that is incomprehensible for everybody," Tengelmann spokeswoman Sieglinde Schuchardt said.

The search for Haub on both sides of the Swiss-Italian border involved three helicopters, ground patrols and avalanche rescue teams, with up to 60 people at its peak. It was temporarily suspended on Thursday because of strong winds, but resumed on Friday morning. 

A spokesman for the Valais police confirmed to the Swiss news agency SDA-ATS that the search for Haub had been abandoned at the end of Friday afternoon.

"Slim chance"

Rescuers had said there was only a slim chance of finding the experienced skier alive. 

“There are justified chances certainly in the first two to three days,” Axel Mann, who leads medical rescue efforts at helicopter operator Air Zermatt, told a news conference on Wednesday. “We currently still see a minimal chance.” 

Anjan Truffer, rescue team head in Zermatt, said: “We had to conclude that, unfortunately, he could be anywhere.” 

Haub, 58, whose family is among Germany’s wealthiest, has run the Tengelmann group since 2000. The company owns the OBI home improvement chain and KiK fashion discounter. 

Crevasse danger 

The head of mountain rescue services in Italy’s Aosta valley, Adriano Favre, said Haub was skiing on his own, and since the area at 3,800 metres where he disappeared includes glaciers, it was possible he might have fallen into a crevasse, according to the Blick newspaper.

Karl-Erivan Haub is the fifth generation of the family to run the business which was founded in 1867 as an importer of coffee and tea. His father, Erivan Haub, died last month on his ranch in the United States. Forbes magazine estimated his fortune at $6.4 billion (CHF6.1 billion).

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