Walter Haefner, the Zurich-born owner of the Amag car dealership and the largest shareholder of US tech company CA, has died aged 101. His fortune was recently estimated at $4.3 billion (SFr4.13 billion) by business magazine Forbes.
According to Forbes’s 2012 list of billionaires, he was the joint 248th richest person in the world and the oldest person worth more than $1 billion. That honour now goes to David Rockefeller Sr., the 97-year-old grandson of oil baron John D. Rockefeller.
Haefner, who died last week but whose death was only announced on Tuesday, made his money in CA, formerly Computer Associates, an IT software maker. In Switzerland, his Amag company is the country’s largest importer of Volkswagen, Seat, Skoda and Audi.
After the Second World War he pulled off a coup when in 1948 he signed a deal with Volkswagen and imported the first Beetle into Switzerland. By the end of the year, the number had risen to 1,380.
By the time he celebrated his centenary, Haefner had handed over the daily running of the firm but still visited the offices in Zurich regularly.
He also owned a highly successful stud farm in Ireland, collected art and engaged in charitable activities, particularly through a foundation that bears his name. He lived by Lake Zurich for 60 years.