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Birkenstock Billionaires Unveiled After German Sandal Maker Agrees To Sell In A $4.7 Billion Deal

Two heirs to one of Germany’s best-known footwear brands emerged as billionaires after agreeing to sell a majority stake in closely held Birkenstock to a private equity group backed by the world’s third-richest person.

Brothers Alex and Christian Birkenstock are worth an estimated $1.7 billion each based on the $4.87 billion value implied by the sale of up to 70% of the business to L Catterton, a firm backed by the billionaire chief executive of LVMH, Bernard Arnault, and his family’s holding company, Financière Agache.

The deal was confirmed by the company last week, which said the brothers, who hold equal stakes, will sell more than half of the company and remain minority shareholders once the sale is concluded. German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that the brothers will sell from 60% to 70%. A spokesperson declined to disclose details of the transaction.

Neither of the brothers has much to do with the business these days. Alex Birkenstock, 52, has instead reportedly spent time collecting properties in cities like Miami and New York and developing a sprawling home on Lake Tegernsee, a spa town in southern Germany, which includes a two-story underground parking lot with 20 spaces. Christian, 48, is said to live hours away from the company’s headquarters. A third brother, Stephan, sold his stake in 2013.

The shoes—favorites among hippies and grandads around the world—have been made by the family for nearly 250 years. Church records from the German town of Langen-Bergheim identify Johann Adam Birkenstock in 1774 as a “subject and cobbler” whose great-great-grandson Konrad opened two shoe stores in nearby Frankfurt and started making and selling flexible footbed insoles. The arches were contoured, rather than flat, which provided additional support.



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