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Pandemic Billionaires: Meet Turkish couple behind $21bn BioNtech company

This scientist power-couple who recently became billionaires is the driving force behind BioNtech/Pfizer’s new Covid-19 vaccine.



Pandemic Billionaires: Meet the Turkish Couple behind $21bn BioNtech Company

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a devastating experience for the world, as human lives were lost on a scale not seen in a long time. Economic activities ground to a halt and millions lost their jobs.

However, just like every other thing in life, while some entrepreneurs were reeling in losses and laying off workers, some entrepreneurs were making big money off the global pandemic.

READ: Many Billionaires became richer by 27% during the COVID-19 pandemic – Swiss Bank UBS

Turkish couple behind $21bn BioNtech Company 

Meet Dr. Ugir Sahin and Dr.Ozlem Türeci, the Turkish couple that partnered with Pfizer to produce the BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine, and has gone on to become one of the richest couples in Germany, their resident country.

Both scientists are children of Turkish immigrants who moved to Germany in the 1960s. According to the NY Times, Dr. Ugir Sahin grew up wanting to be a doctor and became a physician at the University of Cologne. In 1993, he earned a doctorate from the university for his work on immunotherapy in tumour cells.

On the other hand, his wife, Dr. Ozlem Türeci, initially wanted to be a nun but ended up studying Medicine. She is currently the Chief Medical Officer of BioNtech. She met her husband at the University of Saarland where she was studying.

The couple got married in 2002 and are based in the city of Mainz, Germany.

READ: China’s richest man worth $94.1 billion earned a fortune from selling bottled water


First company sold For €1.4bn

The couple founded their first company, Ganymed, in 2001. Dr. Ugir, speaking to Süddeutsche Zeitung a top German daily, explained that the name “Ganymed” is a Turkish expression which means “earned from hard work.”

The company developed precision antibody therapies for cancer. They also treated cancer using monoclonal antibodies.

According to the Guardian, Ganymed was sold to a Japanese pharma company, Astellas, for €1.4bn in 2016.

READ: Wealth of world’s billionaires hits $10.2 trillion

Second company valued at $21.9bn 

Dr. Ugir Sahin and Dr. Ozlem Türeci founded their second company, BioNtech, in 2008. The company is currently valued at $21.9bn after its partnership with Pfizer produced a vaccine 90% efficient in curing Covid-19.

The company was co-founded by Christian Huber, an Austrian oncologist. Just like their first company, BioNtech was also focused on innovative ways to treat cancer cells. The goal was to develop immunotherapy cancer treatments, using genetic material called mRNA to train the human body to produce its antigene.

Their extensive study in mRNA came in handy when news of the Covid-19 pandemic broke.

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READ: US Dethroned As World’s Billionaire Capital

Partnership with Pfizer 

BioNtech was Germany’s frontman in the global race for the Covid-19 vaccine, and they delivered excellent work. BioNtech partnered with Pfizer who took care of the development and distribution of a vaccine proven to be 90% effective in curing the coronavirus.

Lifestyle and net worth

Dr. Sahin and Dr. Türeci live with their teenage daughter in a modest apartment near their office. They do not own a car, rather, they ride bicycles to work.

According to Forbes Dr. Sahin’s personal net worth is $4.2bn, owning 17% of BioNtech with a market value of $21bn.

After its successful Covid-19 vaccine developed with Pfizer, BioNtech’s stock has risen 160% since January 2020. It was declared by the U.S. FDA to be 95% effective in preventing Covid-19.

Awards and recognition

Dr. Sahin and Dr. Türeci were named the Financial Times people of the year for achieving a remarkable scientific and business feat.

The BioNtech vaccine was the first vaccine to win approval from two of the world’s most credible regulators.


I Am A Business Analyst And Digital Media Enthusiast Covering Wealth And Business Leaders. Follow Me On Twitter

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Billionaire Watch

Top 5 women who became billionaires after divorcing their husbands

The divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates is set to mint another woman billionaire.



Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates is set to mint another woman billionaire. Yesterday, Nairametrics reported on the first set of transactions made by Bill Gates to his ex-wife, Melinda.

She was transferred securities worth over $1 billion, already making her a billionaire. With more transfers set to come, we want to look at 5 other women who became billionaires after divorcing their husbands.

5 .  Sue Ann Arnall ($1 billion  

Sue Ann Arnall was the wife of oil baron and CEO of Continental Resources, Mr Harold Hamm. The 26-year-old marriage ended in 2015 with a handwritten check of a whopping $974 million to Sue Ann, which she initially rejected on the basis that it was too small. After a series of back and forth in court, however, she finally accepted the cheque.

Before the cheque, Harold Hamm had initially paid her over $20 million, driving the total settlement figure over a billion dollars.

Harold Hamm is currently the 247th richest man in the world with a net worth of $8.6 billion.

READ: There are only 15 black billionaires in the world, here are the top 10

4.  Sue Gross ( $1.3 billion )

The ex-wife of Bill Gross, the billionaire founder of the investment management firm, PIMCO, walked away from her 32-year-old marriage to the business mogul with a handsome $1.3 billion dollars. She started her own charity afterwards.

Bill Gross is currently worth $1.5 billion according to Forbes. He founded PIMCO in 1971 and it became one of the most successful investment management firms in America.


READ: Squarespace founder is the latest billionaire, set to make $3bn from listing his company

3.  Elaine Wynn ( $2 billion ) 

Elaine Wynn is the ex-wife of Steve Wynn and she is a Co-Founder of the successful casino company, Wynn Resorts. After the couple divorced in 2012, she was transferred 11 million shares from the company which was valued at $795 million at the time.

Her ex-husband sold a substantial amount of shares later that year, which she also got a stake in. Today, her total shares from the Wyatt Resorts are worth over $2.3 billion according to Forbes.

READ: Is Donald Trump still a billionaire?

2.  Melinda Gates ($1.8 billion and counting) 

Melinda Gates is the latest billionaire divorcee on the block and she is already worth $1.8 billion after the first transfer of wealth. Her ex-husband, Bill Gates is the 4th richest man in the world. She will be worth over $60 billion if Bill Gates’ fortune is split evenly with her, although that is very unlikely.

1.  Mackenzie Scott ($57.7 billion) 

The ex-wife of the richest man in the world tops the list with a staggering $57.7 billion net worth. She met her ex-husband, Jeff Bezos when they both worked at a hedge fund in New York and she helped set up Amazon.

After her divorce from Bezos in 2019, she received 4% of Amazon shares which was valued at $35 billion then. Amazon stocks have witnessed a near 75% increase since then. She is currently worth $57.7 billion according to Forbes.

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What you should know 

Melinda Gates may top the list after the complete transfer of wealth by her ex-husband, Bill Gates.

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Billionaire Watch

The Gates Divorce: Bill Gates’ Holding Company transfers $1.8bn of equities to Melinda Gates

More details have now emerged on the Gates asset split following the divorce.



Details of how Bill and Melinda Gates will share the Gates’ fortune are beginning to emerge. The multi-billionaire couple announced their divorce after 27 years of marriage on Monday via a joint statement.

Since the divorce announcements, questions on how Bill’s $146bn fortune would be split, have arisen in the media. Nairametrics also did an earlier article on a few possible financial outcomes, particularly regarding the BMG Foundation that the couple jointly Chair.

More details have now emerged on the Gates asset split following the divorce.

READ: Bill Gates holds far more cash than Nigeria’s foreign reserve

Cascade transfers $1.8bn equities to Melinda Gates

Cascade Investment, a holding company Bill Gates founded with proceeds from his Microsoft Corporation yesterday transferred securities worth more than $1.8 billion to Melinda Gates following their divorce.

The securities involved include:

14.1 million shares of Canadian National Railway Co. worth about $1.5 billion

2.94 million shares in AutoNation Inc., worth $309 million.


What you should know

Melinda Gates is on her way to join the league of women who became sudden billionaires after divorcing their husbands.

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