West Germany: Decision from the Grave

Most of the men who created Germany's industrial empires were prolific biologically as well as financially. Result: a complexity of heirs who often have neither the managerial ability nor the foresight as shareholders to guide the companies left in their hands. More than one company has withered after its founder's death, and a few—the Stinnes plastics and machinery network is the most recent example—have actually died. To remedy this situation and to avoid huge inheritance taxes, many German firms are turning over ownership to corporate foundations. Last week, in the biggest such move so far, a foundation took over...

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