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Klaus-Michael Kuehne

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Klaus-Michael Kuehne is the honorary chairman and majority owner of Kuehne + Nagel, the world’s largest sea-freight forwarder. The Schindellegi, Switzerland-based company had revenue of 39.4 billion Swiss francs ($41.3 billion) in 2022. He also owns about one-third of Hapag-Lloyd, a Hamburg-based container-shipping business.

The majority of Klaus-Michael Kuehne’s wealth is derived from his stakes in two shipping companies: Kuehne + Nagel and Hapag-Lloyd.

He has a 53% stake in Kuehne + Nagel, according to company’s 2022 annual report. Kuehne + Nagel is the world’s largest sea-freight forwarder, according to its website.

Kuehne owns 30% of container-shipping company Hapag-Lloyd through Kuehne Maritime, according to its 2022 annual report. He’s also acquired 15% of Deutsche Lufthansa, according to its 2022 annual report. He also owns 10% of Brenntag, according to a Sept. 1, 2023 filing.

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The value of his cash investments is based on dividends, insider transactions, taxes and market performance. 

Inge Lauble-Meffert, a spokeswoman at the Kuehne Foundation, declined to comment on the calculation.

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Education: University of Hamburg

Grandfather August Kuehne and his partner Friedrich Nagel founded transportation and logistics company Kuehne + Nagel in Bremen, Germany, in 1890. Klaus-Michael was born in 1937, and joined the family business in 1958, following a banking apprenticeship. He was appointed CEO of the Hamburg, Germany-based company eight years later, and began a global expansion by focusing on acquisitions.

Purchasing competitors, he increased Kuehne + Nagel’s market share in areas where it had a limited presence, such as road and contract logistics. He joined the board of directors after resigning as CEO, in 1975. He was named executive chairman of the board in 1992, and was appointed the company’s honorary chairman in 2011.

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Kuehne and a group of investors made a successful bid in 2008 for a majority stake in Hapag-Lloyd, Europe’s fourth-largest container-shipping line. He lives in Schindellegi, Switzerland, with his wife, Christine, and is chairman of his namesake foundation.


  • 1937 Born in Hamburg, Germany, to Alfred Kuehne and his wife.
  • 1958 Joins Kuehne & Nagel following a banking apprenticeship.
  • 1976 Kuehne Stiftung is founded to support education and science causes.
  • 1981 Klaus-Michael’s father, Alfred Kuehne, dies.
  • 1992 Becomes executive chairman of the board.
  • 1994 Kuehne + Nagel sells shares in an initial public offering.
  • 2008 Heads a consortium that buys Hapag-Lloyd.
  • 2011 Appointed as Kuehne & Nagel’s honorary chairman.
  • 2015 Hapag-Lloyd starts publicly trading in Hamburg.

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