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German gummy bears maker Hans Riegel dead at 90

Oct. 15, 2013 at 4:53 PM   |   Comments

BONN, Germany, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Hans Riegel, a hugely successful German industrialist whose business happened to be candy, died Tuesday, his company said. He was 90.

Riegel took over his father's gummy bear business Haribo along with his brother Paul, after returning home from World War II, which included a stint as a prisoner of war.

Paul Riegel, who died in 2009, was the operations man, whereas Hans was the face and, it might be said, the personality of the company he ran for 67 years and turned into a global giant with products sold in 110 countries and an estimated valuation of $2.7 billion.

He was known as a joker with a big heart, Der Spiegel reported. He was also dedicated to work, clinging as far as he could to the adage, "He who retires gets older faster," a saying he reportedly liked to repeat.

He was defined as "old school" and "a benevolent dictator," who charged his employees less than he could have for company housing, paid them more than he had to, and insisted that every new gummy bear variation be approved by him.

He once turned down financial help from famed U.S. investor Warren Buffett in part because he wanted to maintain control of the company.

He was known as a colorful character who became Germany's first champion in men's badminton, a title he shared with a doubles partner. He was also an avid hunter and a helicopter enthusiast.

Der Spiegel said he worked hard, but remained "a child at heart," watching cartoons as an adult and "eating gummy bears from the package."

Haribo's chief executive officer for 67 years, Riegel had a brain tumor removed in July, at which point marketing and sales were run by junior executives, but just temporarily, Der Spiegel said.

"Money was never my motivation," he once said, although he went on to become a billionaire.

He also once said, "I just wanted to make something of my father's life work."

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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