Zermatt / Mülheim / Ruhr (dpa) - One year ago, one of the richest Germans disappeared without a trace: former Tengelmann CEO Karl-Erivan Haub did not return on 7 April 2018 from a ski tour in the Valais Alps.

Despite a large-scale search operation, every trace of the entrepreneur is still missing today, which together with his brothers include the textile discount store Kik and the DIY chain Obi. And it is questionable if his corpse is ever found.

"One can never give up hope, but a coincidence would have to come to the rescue. Otherwise it's like finding the needle in a haystack, "says Zermatt's rescue chief, Anjan Truffer, a year after his disappearance.

Haub was a well-trained athlete. He wanted to prepare for one of the most demanding touring ski competitions in the Alps in Zermatt. The "Patrouille des Glaciers" races 53 kilometers from Zermatt through the Valais Alps.

Contrary to all recommendations of the mountain guides, the entrepreneur was traveling alone on the Klein Matterhorn near Zermatt. He was last seen at the mountain station of the gondola lift at more than 3800 meters altitude. His disappearance did not occur until he did not return to the hotel in the evening.

In the meantime, there is no active search for the body of Karl-Erivan Haub. "If he falls into a crevasse, the chance of finding him is very low, you have to be realistic," says Truffer.

"There are thousands of crevasses up there. You can fall 20, 30 meters deep into a crevasse, sometimes more. The collapsing snow bridge, which covered the crevasse, can weigh several tons and often crashes on the person. »

But the entrepreneur has not yet been declared dead. A similar procedure could be initiated by the family at the earliest one year after the disappearance. But no one wants to urge relatives to do so in the emotional time immediately after the anniversary. It is clear anyway that the shares in the company go to the two children of Karl-Erivan Haub. This is what the statute of the family wants.

Haub's disappearance was not only a grave inconvenience for his family, but also for Tengelmann. For around 15 years, Karl-Erivan Haub had left his mark on the trading empire. His younger brother Christian Haub jumped into the gap he left behind. The entrepreneur used to live with his family in the USA, but plans to relocate to Germany later this year.

Just one and a half weeks after the disappearance of his brother Christian Haub took over the sole management of the family empire. Previously, he had been in charge of managing the family fortune and the family's charitable activities. In addition, he led the family-owned venture capital company Emil Capital Partners.

After assuming office, he first tried to dispel the fears of the future in the company. "The loss of our brother is a tragedy for our family. But it does not endanger the continued existence of our family business, "he emphasized. Not least thanks to his brother, the Tengelmann Group was "solid and fit for the future".

Christian Haub now has the helm firmly in his hands and continues the restructuring of the family empire initiated by his brother with the sale of the food trade. He does not hesitate to cut off old braids.

So he announced in January a drastic reduction of the group holding company. In the process, most of the previously 250 jobs are to be eliminated. In view of the company sales in recent years - such as the sale of Kaiser's Tengelmann supermarkets - the previous holding was oversized. The downsizing of the corporate headquarters is also symbolically a turning point. Because this is the task of the traditional company headquarters in Mülheim an der Ruhr.

But Christian Haub feels more committed to the future than to the past anyway - and is sure that he will meet the wishes of his missing brother. The common goal has always been to hand over the family business in good condition to the next generation, he said, when he succeeded Karl-Erivan Haub. "I hold fast to this goal, and I will do everything in my power to achieve it." There are some things to inherit. According to estimates by the "Manager Magazin", the entrepreneurial dynasty, with a fortune of around five billion euros, is still one of the richest German families.

Tengelmann on the realignment of the holding company

Tengelmann to take over the management of Christian Haub

Tengelmann on the disappearance of Karl-Erivan Haub