Biography - Stephan Schmidheiny


Introduction Biography

Stephan Schmidheiny has made industrial history, as both an entrepreneur and pioneer. After taking over responsibility for the family firm Swiss Eternit Group in 1976, he began to push for an end to asbestos processing, leading the way in the world in this regard. He subsequently played a key role in saving the Swiss watch industry, and built up an industrial group in Latin America. He served as an advisor to the United Nations and the OECD, established the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and set up numerous organisations that promote sustainability. As a philanthropist and author, and as the person who coined the term 'eco-efficiency', he has lent crucial impetus to the debate on sustainable economic, social and environmental development worldwide.

Eternit trial

The initial hearings in the Italian Eternit trial begin in December. In November 2014, Italy’s highest appeal court, the Corte Suprema di Cassazione, acquitted Stephan Schmidheiny of the charges


Parallel to his retirement from the business life, Stephan Schmidheiny assigned the handling of the asbestos dossier of the former Swiss Eternit Group SEG to Becon AG

Nueva SA

Established Management Company Nueva SA in Costa Rica


Acquisition of Wild-Leitz; 1990 merger with Cambridge Instruments to LEICA

Swiss Eternit Group

Beginning of the sale of all holdings in the Swiss Eternit Group, which concluded at the end of the 1980s. The holdings were sold to the legal successors with all rights and duties


Election to the Board of Directors of Nestlé; stepped down from Board in 2003


Announcement of the merger of the Swiss BBC with the Swedish Asea to ABB. Board member Stephan Schmidheiny is recognized as one of the driving forces behind the ground-breaking merger

Landis & Gyr

Election to the Board of Directors of Landis & Gyr; 1987 majority shareholder of L&G Holding; 1995 sold L&G shares to Elektrowatt; stepped down from Board in 1996


Assumed control of SMH (later Swatch Group) to save the Swiss watch industry, joint venture with Nicolas Hayek; Board Member 1986 – 1994

Distribution of Max Schmidheiny’s Estate

Thomas Schmidheiny receives the Holderbank Group (now LafargeHolcim), Stephan Schmidheiny the Swiss Eternit Group SEG