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AUSTRIAN OF THE WEEK

BUSINESS

Mr Red Bull: Dietrich Mateschitz

One of the founders of the popular energy drinks brand, Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz is an Austrian entrepreneur and businessman with an estimated net worth of €5.2 billion.

Mr Red Bull: Dietrich Mateschitz
Mateschitz with his girlfriend Marion Feichtner. Photo: SN/APA/ANDREAS

Austria will host a Grand Prix for the first time in more than a decade when Formula 1 travels to Spielberg, in Styria, for round eight of the 2014 championship on June 20-22.

The Red Bull Racing team will be performing in front of what is effectively a home crowd, on the Red Bull Ring. Owner Mateschitz, who has just turned 70, is credited with having revived the region, never mind being one of the richest people in Austria.

Of Croatian ancestry, Mateschitz (known as Didi), was born in Sankt Marein im Mürztal, Styria.

After completing his marketing degree at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, he was hired by Unilever for marketing detergents.

Subsequently, he started working for Blendax, a Germany-based cosmetic company. While working for Blendax, he discovered the drink Krating Daeng, which is now known as Red Bull.

Forty-nine percent of the company belongs to him, and 51 percent to the Thai family who introduced him to the drink when he was travelling in Asia. He was 43 when he started marketing the drink. 

In November 2004 Mateschitz bought Jaguar Formula One, and later renamed it as Red Bull Racing.

Mateschitz also owns the NASCAR Team Red Bull. In 2004, he acquired the A1-Ring circuit of Formula One and renamed it to Red Bull Ring. A year later, he purchased SV Austria Salzburg, an Austrian football club which he later renamed to Red Bull Salzburg.

Mateschitz is considered a marketing genius, but his private world remains mysterious. He rarely does interviews and never answers questions about his private life.

His lifestyle is full of contradictions. Despite his wealth he appears down to earth – stubble, jeans, and an unbuttoned shirt is his usual look. But his hobbies are more exclusive. He owns the beautiful South Pacific Laucala Island. Renting a villa here will set you back €15,000 a day. Mateschitz lives in a 900-square-meter villa in Nonntal and owns an estate in Maria Alm. But his greatest passion is planes, and part of his collection is exhibited in Salzburg.

He’s rarely seen on the Red Carpet. "Whenever I go out, it just convinces me that actually I’m missing nothing," he told Bloomberg Businessweek. His long-term girlfriend Marion Feichtner is always at his side on the rare occasion that he does make a public appearance.

The heir to his empire is his only child Mark Gerhardter (21), the result of a two-year relationship between Mateschitz and former ski instructor, Anita. She is now head of the Mateschitz Foundation Wings for Life, a not-for-profit spinal cord research foundation. The two were never married. "I was too immature to get married," Mateschitz has said.

Mark wasn’t sent to an elite school but did his Matura at the vocational Werkschulheim Felbertal. Classmates describe him as bright, interested, and sporty. His father is now teaching him how to manage a billion euro business. In addition to studying business administration, Mark has also been touring the globe to learn about all the various branches of the Red Bull empire.

Mateschitz has also acquired some real estate around Spielberg. He owns the Renaissance castle Admontbichl in Obdach, and has made the Steirerschlössl castle in Zeltweg into a luxury hotel. He has also converted a former farmhouse in Großlobming into an exclusive country club, and snapped up Castle Thalheim in Pöls.

The Kurier paper writes that if his shopping spree continues, the Mur valley could soon be renamed the Red Bull Valley.

 

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MONEY

Over half of Austrians on financially shaky ground: survey

More than 50 percent of Austrians feel financially unprepared for any unexpected turns in life, a new survey has found.

Over half of Austrians on financially shaky ground: survey

Money is really tight for people right now: inflation is high, energy prices are spiralling, even shopping for essentials in the supermarket is putting a strain on people’s wallets.

And that’s before you even think about pensions and planning for the future.

READ ALSO: What is Austria planning to do to cushion the rising cost of living

Sixty-six percent of Austrians are finding it increasingly difficult to make the right pension and financial decisions, according to a recent survey from Swiss Life, as reported by Austrian daily Der Standard.

The results were based on a survey of 1,050 people from Austria aged from 18 to 70 at the start of April.

It seems that many people are also unhappy with financial decisions they’ve made in the past.

A majority – 51 percent – of Austrians said they had made at least one important financial decision that they would later like to have reversed.

And around a third had even lost a large amount of money because they hadn’t informed themselves well enough.

‘Knowledge is power’
A lack of information around finance seems to be quite a common problem: only 34 percent of survey respondents said they felt really well-informed about financial topics.

It’s rather worrying that so many people feel unprepared for the unexpected; a break-up, an appliance breaking down, there are many things that can put additional pressure on household budgets.

“The study once again underlines how important and forward-looking financial education and skills are,” said Christoph Oberlacher, CEO of Swiss Life Austria.

“Knowledge is power. Only those who have the skills and abilities to make financial decisions on an objective basis will be able to lead a self-determined life in all matters in the future,” he added.

And people clearly recognise they need help to become better informed.

A high proportion of those surveyed – 74 percent – thought that getting advice on financial and pension issues was important, with 66 percent saying they felt having a personal adviser was increasingly important.

This comes as many banks and financial providers have expanded apps and online offerings to make it easier for people to access financial products.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it is the youngest people in the survey – those born between 1981 and 2004 – who attached the most importance to seeking advice – 78 percent.

And people in Austria really trust their financial and insurance providers – the survey found that trust was high across all generations at 81 percent.

‘Increased desire for stabiity’
Only a third of those surveyed did not have a permanent adviser at a bank or insurance company.

“The years of the pandemic in particular have increased the desire for stability and security in society as a whole,” said Oberlacher.

The pandemic turned life upside down for many people, so it is not surprising that 86 percent of those surveyed considered financial autonomy to be a fundamental need. 

Fortunately, 71 percent said achieving this was a realistic goal for them personally.

And the survey showed that people have a clear sense of personal responsibility for the outcome of their decisions, too: 75 percent of Austrians said they felt responsible for the success – as well as the failure – of their financial provisions.

People may feel they are not well-informed, but most – 68 percent – had clear financial goals, nonetheless. Every second person said they were planning a decision with major financial implications in the next year.

Finally, 27 percent of those who were approaching retirement or had already retired (people born between 1946 and 1964) said they wished they’d taken personal advice when making decisions about retirement.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: Why some households in Vienna are set for a gas price hike

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