Red Bull revamped after founder's death

Red Bull revamped after founder's death

Thai majority shareholders agree on management committee to replace the late Dietrich Mateschitz

(Reuters File Photo)
(Reuters File Photo)

Red Bull has divided management duties among a handful of European executives, distancing the company’s day-to-day leadership from the family of billionaire founder Dietrich Mateschitz less than two weeks after his death in Austria at age 78.

The passing of Mateschitz had stoked speculation as to who would take over the global energy drink maker, with Austrian media reporting that the company’s Thai majority shareholders, the Yoovidhya family, were looking to take more control.

But Mark Mateschitz, the lone son of Dietrich who now owns 49% of Red Bull, told employees on Friday that he and the Yoovidhya family had agreed to appoint a management committee that will run the company.

Chalerm Yoovidhya and family are worth an estimated $26.4 billion according to Forbes magazine, thanks in large part to their holdings in Red Bull. Mr Chalerm's son, Vorayuth, has been on the run for 10 years as he tries to wait out the statute of limitations on the last remaining charges stemming from the hit-and-run death of a policeman in 2012.

Under the new Red Bull structure, there will be separate heads of the beverage operations as well as projects and investments. Mark Mateschitz said he would step away from day-to-day business activities to manage his investment in the closely held company.

“I do not believe one should be both an employee and a shareholder of the same company,” he said in a statement. “I will concentrate on my role as a shareholder, and I will interpret this and express myself in a way that makes sense to me and as I find necessary.” 

Dietrich Mateschitz died last month after becoming Austria’s richest man, raising questions about the future of one of Europe’s most successful brand-building stories of recent decades.

The marketing impresario built his fortune by peddling Red Bull to the masses, harnessing popularity of the energy drink to build a sports-marketing empire spanning Formula 1 auto racing, football and mountain biking.

Red Bull traces its origins to a similar drink called Krating Daeng, which was introduced in 1976 in Thailand by pharmacist Chaleo Yoovidhya, the father of Mr Chalerm. On a business trip to Thailand, Mateschitz discovered that the caffeinated beverage eased his jet lag. He and Chaleo founded Red Bull in 1984.

By 2020, Red Bull was selling tens of millions of servings each day of the brew that comes with a distinctive sweet flavour and is packaged in a slender can. It reported revenue of €6.3 billion (US$6.1 billion) in 2020.

In the new management structure, Franz Watzlawick will be chief executive officer for beverages, with Oliver Mintzlaff as CEO for projects and investments. Alexander Kirchmayr will act as chief financial officer. 

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