by Jörn "Joe" Menninger Startuprad.io
(republished with permission from Startuprad.io - 9APR21)
The production of generics (drugs whose patent ran out and can now be re-produces very cheap) is a long-time family business. Their father, named Ernst Strüngmann, was a doctor, an eye doctor, and already a successful entrepreneur in his own right, he founded the generic drug producer Durachemie in 1956. The family relocated with the company from Duisburg to the area around the lovely Tegernsee in Bavaria, in the 1960s, where the brothers still live today.
The Twin Brothers
The twins have an older brother named Joachim, who did not want to take over the family business Durachemie. Joachim became a doctor and opened his own practice in Munich.
Andreas and Thomas Strüngmann were born in 1950 in Tegernsee, Germany. Andreas Strüngmann also became a doctor, earning his M.D. at the University of Buffalo in upstate New York. He did a clinical clerkship in South Africa, where he remained as a doctor for some time as well.
Thomas Strüngmann is a business guy, he earned his business degree from the University of Augsburg. Thomas also now functions as the public face of the two brothers and their investments.
Step One Selling The Family Business Durachemie To Merck KG a.A.
The brothers entered the company of their father called Durachemie in 1979, which they sold to Merck for 100 mn D-Mark in 1986 ( ~41 mn US$ at ‘86 exchange rate): Merck KGAA buys Bavarian generics co. Durachemie GMBH :: In Vivo
Step Two Hexal – Building one of Europe’s Largest Generic Drug Producers and Selling It to Novartis
The brothers used the proceeds of their exit of Durachemie to found Hexal AG together, a German pharmaceutical firm, also focused on producing generics. They turned this company at the time of their exit into one of Germany’s largest drug producers. As of April 2021, Hexal is producing 5.900 different drugs, 200 mn articles in total.
Hexal’s Eon Labs Inc.
Acquisition With Hexal they bought a stake in ailing generics producer Eon Labs, based in New York in 1995. They turned Eon Labs around by providing EON with first rights to all the drugs made by its parent company and exclusive rights to market Hexal drugs in the United States. Between 1992 and 1999, the company’s revenues increased from $10 million to $77 million. Profits were growing steadily, eclipsing $5 million in 1999. The financial results and the German CEO Hampl’s success in executing the company’s strategy convinced Hexal to purchase the entire company in 2000. Hexal acquired J.H. Whitney’s half of Eon and became the sole owner of the company. In the next few years, Hexal’s investment proved to be shrewd, as Eon enjoyed the most successful years in its history. After turning around this drug company, they listed a 23% share in Eon Labs for 145 m US$ in March 2002.
They build Hexal up from 1986 until 2005, when they sold it to Novartis, along with their majority stake in Eon Labs, Inc., for a combined €5.6 billion (at the time, $8.3 billion) https://www.marketwatch.com/story/novartis-buys-hexal-eon-labs-generics-for-829-bln. Novartis integrated the business in their Sandoz Group and became Europe’s largest producer of generic drugs with the deal.
Reportedly as a reward for his business success and an opportunity to think about what is next, Andreas bought a yacht to sail around the world.
Andreas and Thomas are the richest self-made billionaire twins in the world.
Step Three – Billionaire Serial Entrepreneurs and Investors
Their family office is called Santo, which is simply a combination of “Strüngmann Andreas Thomas”, located in Zug, Switzerland with several subsidiaries around the world https://www.listenchampion.de/2018/11/11/struengmann-family-office-santo-holding-und-athos-service-im-portrait/. They took their 25+ years of experience building companies in the bio-pharma space to help other startups. According to Handelsblatt, both brothers combined invested up to 1.3 bn Euros (1.5 bn US$) in several biotech companies. Given these large investments it is fair to count them among the premier biotech and pharma investors in Germany and Europe. For the BioNTech investments the “Impf AT” and “MIG Fonds” are noteworthy, because the brothers invested with these two vehicles.
Split of Duties Between the Brothers
Thomas is the more extrovert of the two brothers. He is the public face of the company, Forbes estimates Thomas and his family (the twins have six children together, of which 4 are from Thomas) as No 200 on their global list of Billionaires, with a current net worth of 12.1 bn US$: https://www.forbes.com/profile/thomas-struengmann/?sh=36f49dd9336f
They also estimated Andreas to be worth 12.1 bn US$, including his family of two children: https://www.forbes.com/profile/andreas-struengmann/?sh=434fff551109 He is the doctor and medical mind.
Reportedly Andreas comes up with ideas and Thomas makes them work. Andreas acts more behind the scenes. Both brothers don’t have any diva habits, they were lovely called “doctores” by their employees at Hexal.
The Twin Serial Entrepreneurs
The Strüngmann family office and MIG have invested in, helped build and sold, either on their own or together, a number of biotechnology and healthcare companies, such as SuppreMol, Ganymed AG, or Ganymed, CorImmun, Sivantos (former Siemens hearing aid business), Press Ganey (surgery survey company) and Apceth (cell therapy manufacturing company). One of their investments also included Curevac from Tübingen (we wrote about them in June 2020 here) and Mainz-based NASDAQ listed biotech unicorn BioNTech, which developed with Pfizer one of the world’s first and most effective corona vaccines. As many readers of my blog and followers of our podcast already know: BioNTech is the brain behind Pfizer’s highly effective corona vaccine.
It is positively awesome – what two brothers with a dream and the combined technologies of medicine and business can do – an inspiration to every startup out there – you can make a difference.
BioNTech Investors – Making the Fast Corona Vaccine Possible
The investment in BioNTech resulted from a meeting of Özlem Türeci and Uğur Şahin (the couple behind BioNTech) in September 2007. There they presented to Thomas Strüngman and his family office their cancer fighting startup Ganymed, already working with mRNA technology, for which they got 150 mn Euros investment from the brothers.
Türeci and Sahin founded BioNTech 2008 in Mainz since Mr. Sahin is a professor at the University of Mainz (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Mainz, https://www.unimedizin-mainz.de/uct/das-uct-mainz/organisation/geschaeftsfuehrung.html). They received 150 mn Euros in funding by the Strüngmann brothers (with their investment vehicles MIG Fonds and AT Impf) and other investors. More investors joined over time. Enter a third billionaire, a co-founder of SAP, Dietmar Hopp, we are sure Mr. Hopp is interesting enough to warrant his own blog post – even more than one – in the future.
To stick to our brothers here: Their investment vehicle AT Impf invested (according to the IPO prospectus of BioNTech) almost 60 mn US$ in the Series A funding in February 2018, and almost 90 mn US$ in the Series B funding in June and August 2019.
These investments lead to AT Impf being the controlling shareholder at the time of the IPO at Nasdaq on October 10th, 2019, owning 50,2% of the company. The MIG Fonds controlled additional 6% of the company’s equity.
BioNTech was valued on April 7th at 27.533 bn US$. Assuming the Strüngmann brothers held on to their stake, it should be valued right now at 13.82 bn US$ or 11.68 bn Euros. This sounds like a great investment to them and since the company came up with a corona vaccine, it seems like it was a good deal for all people who will get vaccinated with their drug as well.
The Brothers are now 70 years old but show no sign of retiring. They are in talks for new investments, of which two made it in German media:
The brothers donated for the Ernst Strüngmann Forum
Sources and additional readings:
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I am grateful for the comments and improvements made by Sabine Menninger and William Eastman, who also contributed to this article. This post was written by Jörn “Joe” Menninger, startup scout, founder, and host of Startuprad.io. Reach out to him:
By Joe, April 9th, 2021