(Removes extraneous word from first para)
* Businessman had incurable illness
* Helped to found Metro Cash & Carry in 1960s
* Net worth estimated at $3.3 bln
* Inheritance split between two foundations
DUESSELDORF, Germany, Feb 18 German billionaire
Otto Beisheim, one of the founders of retail group Metro
, committed suicide after being diagnosed with an
Beisheim, 89, had lost hope after his diagnosis and was
found dead at his home near the Tegernsee lake in Bavaria on
Monday morning, his company said.
He had helped introduce to Germany in the 1960s the concept
of "cash and carry", warehouse-type shops where trade customers
such as hotels and restaurants go to buy products in bulk.
The Metro group, now the world's fourth-largest retailer,
described him as a "pioneer".
"With his self-service cash-and-carry concept, he
revolutionised the sector in the mid 1960s," Metro Chief
Executive Olaf Koch said in a statement.
The group's operations include the Kaufhof department stores
familiar to German cities, supermarkets, consumer electronics
stores and cash and carries in Moldova and Japan. It had
turnover of 66.7 billion euros ($89 billion) in 2012, almost
half of which came from the cash and carry division.
Last year was a tough one for the group, which issued a
profit warning, lost its place in the Dax index of leading
German shares and received downgrades to its credit ratings.
Declining spending by shoppers in Europe worried about the
euro zone debt crisis and the rise of internet retailers have
also contributed to its shares losing 15 percent of their value
over the past year.
A spokeswoman for the Beisheim Group said there were no
plans to sell the billionaire's near-10 percent stake in Metro.
He was the third-largest shareholder behind the Haniel and
Schmidt-Ruthenbeck families, which together own 45.78 percent.
Beisheim's net worth was estimated at $3.3 billion by Forbes
in March 2012, making him Germany's 22nd richest person.
He supported the Otto Beisheim School of Management, which
took his name after a major donation, and was behind the
redevelopment of the Beisheim Center on Berlin's Potsdamer
Platz, an office and shopping complex that houses the five-star
Ritz Carlton and Marriott hotels.
A widower with no children, Beisheim's assets will be
divided between two foundations to foster cultural and business
However, his image has been clouded by his role in the
Second World War. German media reports have said that he was a
member of Hitler's Waffen-SS. The spokeswoman for the Beisheim
Group said only that he was a low-ranking member and switched to
a different division in 1942.
($1 = 0.7490 euros)
(Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Victoria Bryan;
Editing by Jeremy Gaunt and David Goodman)