Klaus-Michael Kuehne, Germany’s richest person, stands to pocket $4.5 billion in dividends this year from his growing transport empire, a windfall that could fuel another round of investments to boost his fortune. 

Kuehne + Nagel International AG, the world’s largest air and sea freight-forwarding business, on Wednesday announced a planned payout of 14 Swiss francs ($14.90) per share, a 40% increase from the previous year. That would give Kuehne 896 million francs from his 53% stake, if shareholders approve the proposal.

The dividend adds to the €3.3 billion ($3.5 billion) Kuehne stands to gain from his 30% holding in container shipping company Hapag-Lloyd AG and a potential payout from his stake in Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the German carrier reporting earnings Friday.

Kuehne, 85, is worth $39.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him the 31st richest person in the world. That’s well ahead of rival Rodolphe Saade and family, who have $22.7 billion stemming from their holding in shipping line CMA CGM SA.

The tycoons have used part of their pandemic windfalls to expand into aviation, with Kuehne investing in Lufthansa and Saade in Air France-KLM. 

U.K. Property
Next up for Kuehne might be U.K. real estate, health care and logistics, according to an interview with Manager Magazine published last month. 

Property in London is “relatively cheap at the moment,” Kuehne said in the interview, adding that he’s also keeping an eye on his investment in Austrian billionaire René Benko’s Signa Prime Selection AG because it’s “volatile.”

Kuehne, who moved to Switzerland a half-century ago, is keeping open the possibility of investing with private equity firms in DB Schenker, the logistics business that Germany’s state-owned railway Deutsche Bahn AG is considering selling. He also said in the interview there’s no plan to raise his stake in Lufthansa. 

Kuehne married at the age of 52 and has no children. He created a nonprofit Swiss foundation in 1976 that focuses on logistics and medicine with strong ties to his investment vehicle Kuehne Holding AG. They’re based along with Kuehne + Nagel in the hillside hamlet of Schindellegi, overlooking Lake Zurich.

Should he “fall over now,” his closest Swiss adviser and vice president of his foundation, Thomas Staehelin, would take over, Kuehne said in the interview. A spokeswoman for the Kuehne Foundation declined to comment.

In naming his replacement, Kuehne also noted that Staehelin is 75 years old and other possibilities are emerging as the boards of the foundation and his holding company are “rejuvenated.”

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.