Clemens Tönnies (64) is the best-known butcher in Germany and now the most controversial. Of the approximately 7,000 employees of his huge pig slaughterhouse, Tönnies Holding in Rheda-Wiedenbrück (in East Westphalia), over 1,300 (as of June 21, 2020) were infected with the corona virus. The meat entrepreneur is not only under massive political fire, it is also cracking in his family clan.
Family feud between uncle and nephew
Nephew Robert Tönnies, the co-owner of the slaughterhouse, takes his Uncle Clemens hard in a letter dated June 17. "In the letter, Robert Tönnies accuses the management and the advisory board of the group of irresponsible behavior and the danger to the company and the population", writes the "mirror".
Finally the nephew demands the uncle according to "Wirtschaftswoche" to immediately resign: "Clemens, I would advise you to clear your place for Max. Only with new faces can we go into the future credibly." Max means Maximilian Tönnies, the son of Clemens Tönnies.
The family feud between uncle and nephew, which is quite reminiscent of scenes from the cult TV series "Dallas" or "Denver Clan", has been going on for several years. The corona crisis has now brought a sad climax to the dispute.
The large company in East Westphalia was founded in 1971 by the four-year-old Clemens brother Bernd Tönnies (1952-1994) as a wholesaler for meat and sausages. In 1994 Bernd Tönnies, who was also President of Schalke 04, died of kidney transplantation. He left two sons: Clemens jun. and Robert.
After Bernd's death, Clemens Tönnies became head of the company, which expanded rapidly under his leadership and became one of the largest meat processors in Europe. Clemens also inherited his brother Bernd from Schalke. He became chairman of the supervisory board.
Nephew accuses uncle of ingratitude
Several years ago there was a big family crash, who ended up in court several times. Since 2009 there was a stalemate in the ownership structure, so Clemens owned 50 percent and Robert also 50 percent. This was the result of a 5 percent gift from Robert to his uncle. Robert Tönnies, however, reclaimed his gift for "gross ingratitude", as it is legally expressed.
The dispute between the two lasted until 2017, when an agreement was reached out of court. Robert and Clemens Tönnies wanted to set the course together as equal partners – with success. According to its own statements, the company generated annual sales of 6.65 billion euros in 2018.
In 2019 Robert Tönnies demanded the sale of the company
But the conflict flared up again last year. Now the co-partner Robert Tönnies wanted to force the sale of the meat company. Disputed amount: EUR 600 million. From a "rapidly progressing disruption" between nephew and uncle according to "Wirtschaftswoche" mentioned in the application.
Clemens Tönnies, who for years has had friendly relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin (67) via Schalke sponsor Gazprom and is happy to provide the Kremlin chief with cured knuckle of pork from Westphalia, has now replied to his nephew's request for resignation. He wants to face up to the responsibility – and remain: "I will lead this company out of the crisis."