Austria: Red Bull’s new management trio leaves room for speculation

After the early death of company founder Dietrich Mateschitz less than two weeks ago (, 23.10.2022), the Austrian energy drink manufacturer Red Bull will in future be managed by a three-person non-family management team. The founder’s son, Mark Mateschitz, will withdraw from the operative business and concentrate on his role as a shareholder.

Franz Watzlawick, the former head of Red Bull Germany and most recently the group's global sales manager will be heading the global beverage business. Being a sales manager twenty years ago, he proved his skills when he took over the distribution of Red Bull in Germany from former distribution partner Henkell & Söhnlein and successfully set up the German Red Bull organization.

Alexander Kirchmayr, who has been Head of Finance Beverage Business at Red Bull since 2008, will be supporting him as CFO. He also has a seat on the board of directors of the "Art and Culture DM Private Foundation", which, among other things, is intended to ensure the continuation of the numerous media projects that are a matter close to the heart of the deceased company founder.

Last but not least, Oliver Mintzlaff completes the trio. He is currently managing director of the German first division football club RB Leipzig, whose main sponsor is Red Bull. The former track and field athlete has been in charge of RB Leipzig since 2014 and rejected an offer from English Premier League Chelsea F.C. this summer. As CEO of Corporate Projects and Investments of Red Bull, he will be responsible for sports activities in football, ice hockey, Formula 1 and sailing, as well as for the TV station Servus-TV.

The news was revelaed this morning by Mark Mateschitz in a letter to the workforce:

“As proposed and desired by both my father and myself, and supported by our Thai partners, a Board of Directors will manage the business affairs of Red Bull. This will consist of Franz Watzlawick (CEO Beverage Business), Alexander Kirchmayr (CFO), and Oliver Mintzlaff (CEO Corporate Projects and Investments).

“Franz, Alexander, and Oliver were our dream team. I am very happy that they will be taking on this task. Marcus Weber (CMO Beverage Business) will continue to be responsible for global Beverage Marketing, he will report to Franz and will also be granted commercial power of attorney.

“I am especially grateful that Roland Concin, Walter Bachinger, and Volker Viechtbauer, who have all left their previous positions, will remain on board as consultants for Red Bull. With their experience and their know-how, they will support not only the Board of Directors, but all of us, in successfully continuing my father’s work, as he would have wanted.

“Moreover, as managing directors of Distribution & Marketing GmbH, which I now own, and which holds 49% of the company shares of Red Bull GmbH, Walter and Volker will be supporting me personally.

“As for me, I have resigned from my role as Head of Organics – a decision that did not come easy to me, because Organics by Red Bull has always been a project very close to my heart. [Organics by Red Bull are certified organic soft drinks and mixers which were first launched in Austria in summer 2017] But I do not believe one should be both an employee and a shareholder of the same company. I will concentrate on my role as a shareholder, and I will interpret this and express myself in a way that makes sense to me and as I find necessary."

However, the fact that a few weeks before his death, Dietrich Matschitz had the purpose of his foundation expanded to secure activities in media and sports, and the new rather unusual structure of the new management team with two CEOs  leaves room for speculation.

It can therefore be assumed that Red Bull has not yet found its final structure. It is conceivable that the group will be split into two sub-companies, on the one hand the extremely profitable beverages group and on the other hand the other activities, which are mainly located in the sports area.

Another interesting detail is that the beneficiary of the foundation is not Mateschitz's son Mark, but rather the 'general public'.

While the Thais may have less affinity with the group's other operations, which are mostly European-based and not as profitable, their main interest will center on integrating their regional Thai energy drink Krating Daeng, the role model and precursor to Red Bull, into Red Bull's beverage empire.

It also cannot be ruled out that other large soft drink companies such as The Coca-Cola Company or PepsiCo, but also brewery groups such as AB InBev, Heineken, MolsonCoors, Kirin or Asahi, who have been increasingly looking for alternatives to beer, will knock on the doors in Austria or Thailand.

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