Hans Georg Näder

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Hans Georg Näder
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Born (1961-09-19) 19 September 1961 (age 61)
Duderstadt, Germany
NationalityGerman
CitizenshipGermany
Occupation
  • Chairman of Otto Bock
  • Businessman
Children2
Parents
  • Max Nader (father)
  • Maria (mother)

Hans Georg Näder (simplified as Nader) (born September 19, 1961) is a German businessman and majority shareholder of Otto Bock group of companies, which specialises in manufacturing prosthetics. Nader was president and CEO of Otto Bock (1990–2017) before taking on his present position as chairman of the board (2017–present).

Early life and education

Nader was born on September 19, 1961. Nader’s parents were Maria (died 2005) and Max Nader (died 2009). His mother was the daughter of Otto Bock, the original founder of the company which was established following the First World War to provide prosthetics to war veterans and which, during the Second World War, benefited from slave labor provided by Nazi Germany.[1] His father took over Otto Bock group of companies and relocated to West Germany in 1947 upon his return from British captivity during the war.

Nader grew up in Duderstadt and graduated from Eichsfeld Grammar School in Duderstadt in 1981. He went on to study Business Administration at University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (1981-1986).

Career

Nader took over the management of Otto Bock from his father in 1990 and has since expanded the group internationally. Otto Bock currently maintains presence in over 50 countries globally and employs approximately 8,000 people.[2] Between 1990 and 2017, Nader was the sole shareholder of Otto Bock before selling a 20% stake in the business to Swedish private equity firm EQT Partners,[3] who, according to Nader, have an option to exit Otto Bock early depending on the company’s financial performance.[4]

On January 31, 2005, Nader was appointed honorary professor at the PFH Private University of Applied Sciences in Gottingen, Lower Saxony.[5] In October 2009, he was named a visiting scholar at Capital Medical University|Beijing‘s Capital Medical University.[6] Nader was also a co-founder and former chairman of the board of trustees of the Southern Lower Saxony Foundation between 2004 and 2014 (German: Südniedersachsenstiftung).[7]

In 2013, Näder acquired 80% stake in Finnish yacht builder Baltic Yachts.[8] His yacht Pink Gin VI, which is considered the world's largest carbon-made sailing yacht, was then built by his own shipyard.[9] The cost of the yacht, which is registered in Malta for tax purposes, is estimated at 60 million euros.[10]

According to Forbes’s 2021 World Billionaires list, Nader’s net worth amounted to approximately 3.9 billion US dollars, making him the 775th-richest person in the world.[11] German finance outlet Manager Magazin ranked him in 90th place among the richest Germans in 2018 with a net worth of 2 billion euros.[12]

Managerial roles

Nader is the chairman of the supervisory board and founder of the Otto Bock Global Foundation.[13] He is also the chariman of the advisory board of Treffpunkt Stadtmarketing E.V., and the vice chairman of the Working Group of Independent Entrepreneurs (“ASU”) and the Federal Association of Young Entrepreneurs – South Lower Saxony Regional District.[14] He founded the Southern Lower Saxony Foundation[7] and is the member of the supervisory board of Rohde AG, Nörten-Hardenberg[15] and the board of trustees of the Heinz Sielmann Foundation.

Controversies

Corporate governance concerns ahead of Otto Bock planned initial public offering

Nader has publicly stated that he intends to float Otto Bock via an initial public offering currently scheduled for 2022.[16] He first publicly announced his intention to take Otto Bock public in 2015 when he was CEO and President of the company.[17] Since 2016, however, Otto Bock’s financial performance has been characterised as a “debacle” by media outlets. According to Manager Magazin, Otto Bock’s consolidated 2016 financial report stated that the company’s earnings declined and net debt rose by “more than a third to 647 million euros” while investments fell from “124 million euros in 2014 to 85 million euros” in 2016. In 2017, Nader sold a 20% stake in Otto Bock’s medical technology business to EQT Partners “to replenish the tight budgets.”[18]

Oliver Scheel, who was appointed as the first Otto Bock CEO from outside the Nader family in January 2018,[19] was dismissed from his post only ten months later following a reported dispute with Nader and clash of managerial styles. Manager Magazin stated that Scheel’s exit was a “severe blow” economically to Otto Bock after the company’s financial performance improved considerably under his leadership.[20]

Nader replaced Scheel with then-Otto Bock CFO Phillip Schulte-Noelle, who reportedly had “no experience as a corporate leader” until becoming Otto Bock’s CEO. Jorg Wahlers, who succeeded Schulte-Noelle as CFO in August 2019,[21] was the “fifth person” to be appointed CFO since 2016; Manager Magazin stated that “as a rule, such high-frequency changes have a deterrent effect on investors”[16] because “nobody knows who will take” Otto Bock public by 2022.[20]

Manager Magazin also reported that the group’s financial performance continued to decline through 2018 after Nader took on his role as chairman of the board and dismissed Scheel as CEO. Contrary to Nader publicly stating that it was “the best year in the company’s history”[22] as he withdrew 40 million euros in dividends, Business Insider reported that Otto Bock posted losses totaling “107 million euros in 2018.” Nader’s equity withdrawals from Otto Bock and its parent company – he has taken out “around half a billion euros” in the past ten years, even in years when the company made losses – have “repeatedly sparked discussions among the advisory board.” While Nader withdrew hundreds of millions of euros, an Otto Bock subsidiary took out a “bank loan of around half a billion euros” in 2017.[23]

Otto Bock’s equity to total assets ratio has steadily fallen since 2009. While in 2009 that ratio was reportedly 59%,[24] it has fallen to 15.5% in 2019. A representative from the Protection Association of Capital Investors said that “if the share of equity is getting smaller and smaller, the company will eventually stand on very shaky legs.”[23]

Nader reportedly used the funds he took out of Otto Bock to finance his personal lifestyle, including purchasing his most recent Pink Gin VI yacht, “expensive works of art,”[18] and “private jets and prestige projects”[23] such as the 24,000 square meter former Botzow brewery in Berlin.[18] In 2014, he purchased a hotel in Rio de Janeiro[25] and acquired four land plots spanning 22,675 square feet in Brooklyn.[26]

Otto Bock regulatory issues and product quality concerns

During Nader’s tenure as President and CEO (1990–2017) and subsequently chairman of Otto Bock (2017–present), the group has been the subject of regulatory scrutiny and anti-trust investigations in the US, Russia and Central Europe.

Violation of US anti-competition laws (2017–2019)

In November 2019, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) forced Otto Bock to divest all assets that it acquired via its acquisition of industry competitor Freedom Innovations LLC that was initially completed in September 2017. Nader heralded the acquisition, stating that the US market would “benefit from their combined sales power and portfolios.”[27]

Despite Otto Bock’s initial claim that anti-trust matters had been “clarified,” the FTC ruled that the acquisition violated US anti-competition laws because the deal had “substantially lessened competition” in the prosthetic limb market by giving Otto Bock an 80% market share.[28][22] Following an unsuccessful appeal, Otto Bock complied with the divestment order in 2020.[29] According to Manager Magazin, Otto Bock was forced to write off Freedom Innovations LLC, contributing to a EUR 78.1 million decrease in the value of Otto Bock's financial assets.[22]

Polyurethane foam price fixing (1999–2009)

While Nader was Otto Bock’s CEO and President, Otto Bock Polyurethane Technologies Inc, the group’s US polyurethane foam manufacturing unit, was implicated in an alleged decade-long price fixing conspiracy between January 1999 and 2009 that kept foam prices artificially high.

The incident sparked a class action lawsuit brought by direct foam buyers against Otto Bock Polyurethane and its purported co-conspirators who alleged that the price-fixing conspiracy meant that they “had paid too much for foam as the market was no longer competitive.”[30] Otto Bock Polyurethane reached an out-of-court settlement in 2012 and was subsequently dismissed as a defendant, while its co-defendants ultimately paid USD 275.5 million to settle the lawsuit in 2015.[31]

Class-action lawsuit over violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (2013)

In August 2013, while Nader was Otto Bock President, CEO and sole shareholder, a US class action lawsuit brought by prosthetic limb users accused Otto Bock and other industry competitors of abusing their products’ “prescription” status to keep prices for prosthetic limb repair artificially high in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

One Otto Bock prostheses user stated that the company denied him the right to fix his prosthetic limb independently after it malfunctioned repeatedly and endangered his safety. Instead, Otto Bock charged an “extortive fee” for its repair service, which was characterised as a discriminatory sales and distribution model.[32]

Fined by Russian authorities for cartel collusion (2017–2020)

In May 2020, an Otto Bock subsidiary based in Russia was fined by Russian anti-monopoly authorities for suspected cartel collusion which gave Otto Bock and its co-conspirators a monopoly over state tenders for prosthetics.[33]

Russian anti-monopoly authorities sanctioned Otto Bock Novgorod, its parent company ZAO Yulianna, and two other orthopaedic manufacturers and distributors after finding that the group had coordinated bids via a “single infrastructure” to monopolise access to state tenders conducted by regional government insurance bodies related to orthopaedic equipment procurement between 2017 and 2019 while maintaining an illusion of competition between them. The alleged cartel collusion enabled the group to win contracts worth approximately 168.1 million Russian Roubles.[34]

Misuse of public health funds in Bosnia and Hercegovina (2016)

In 2016, the Centre for Investigative Reporting,[35] a Sarajevo|Sarajevo-based investigative media outlet, published an investigation that revealed that Otto Bock Adria, the Otto Bock group’s subsidiary in Bosnia Herzegovina, was implicated in a scandal involving the misuse of public health funds.

According to the article, during Nader’s tenure as CEO and President of Otto Bock, regional medical institutions in Bihac, Una Santa canton allegedly coerced prosthetic limb users into buying exclusively Otto Bock-made products between 2010 and 2015. The Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices, a Bosnian regulatory agency, consequently suspended Otto Bock Adria from operating in the canton after finding that it did not have the required operational licenses to manufacture prosthetic limbs in the country.[36]

Personal life

Nader has two daughters from two previous marriages. He told Berliner Morgenpost in 2015 that marriage “no longer worked for him” and that he was dating an unnamed Cuban singer girlfriend, whose music has been published by Nader’s private record label HGN Productions & Verlag.[37]

In June 2017, after dating for a matter of months, Nader (56) proposed to German model Nathalie Scheil (27) and bought a quarter page-sized advertisement in Berlin newspaper Tagesspiel announcing the engagement. The couple split up shortly before their marriage ceremony, which was due to take place in May 2018 in Ibiza, after Scheil was allegedly caught being unfaithful to Nader in his own home in Berlin.[38][39] Despite the marriage’s cancellation, Nader went ahead with the three-day Ibiza celebration without the bride in May 2018 attended by hundreds of guests.[22]

Museums and art

Nader is involved in social, cultural, religious and humanitarian projects in Germany, providing financing for restoration or creation of museums and art exhibitions.[40]

In 2006, Nader funded the restoration of the Göttingen University Observatory|Gottingen University Observatory.[41] In 2009, Nader opened the new Science Centre Medical Technology located on Berlin’s Ebertstrasse.[42] The same year, Nader opened a rifle museum in his hometown of Duderstadt.[43]

In autumn 2009, Nader launched the Duderstadt 2020 Masterplan project, which aimed to foster innovative ideas for sustainable urban development. The project also published the book Duderstadt - A City In Motion.[44] In 2011, Duderstadt awarded Nader honorary citizenship for his contribution to the city’s development.[45] The project has since been extended and was renamed Duderstadt in 2030.[46]

In 2011, Nader opened the HGN Art Gallery, his own exhibition space located on Karl Wüstefeld Lane, Duderstadt.[47] The gallery houses public displays of Nader’s private art collection, including some 120 works by German American photographer Helmut Newton.[48]

In 2015, Nader’s father’s house in Duderstadt was opened to the public and converted into a museum that features Otto Bock archives dating back to the company’s founding in 1919.[49]

Sailing

Nader is the owner of Pink Gin VI, a 54-metre long carbon-made sailing yacht with a 68-metre mast built by his company Baltic Yachts and launched in May 2017.[50] The yacht was reportedly valued at 60 million euros by yachting specialists.[10] In September 2020, Business Insider reported that Nader was trying to sell the yacht as he was “planning a new project with Baltic Yachts that will be green and sustainable.”[51]

Nader also reportedly acquired Pink Shadow, a Damen-built power vessel with a “touch and go helipad”[52] on it which accompanies Pink Gin VI on its travels.[53]

Before Pink Gin VI, Nader owned Pink Gin V, a Baltic 152-foot maxi yacht built in 2006.[54] Nader won the New Zealand Millennium Cup, which took place off the coast of Mallorca, with Pink Gin V in 2007.[55]

In December 2017, the Paradise Papers, a set of confidential documents relating to offshore investment, revealed that Nader[56] used a criticised tax-saving model[10] for his Pink Gin yacht allowing him to substantially reduce tax liabilities related to the yacht’s purchase by registering it in Malta.[57]

He also has an amphibious vehicle with which he sailed the English Channel crossing on 1 July 2008 in a world record time.[58]

Political contribution

In October 2015, Nader, formerly a supporter of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), left the party for the Free Democratic Party (Germany)|Free Democratic Party (FDP), where he became an economic policy advisor to federal party leader Christian Lindner.[59]

In May and October 2017, he twice donated EUR 100,000 to the FDP and donated another EUR 100,000 to the CDU in September 2017. In 2020, Nader stated in an interview with Handelsblatt that he had switched back to the CDU.[60]

References

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