German billionaire Otto Beisheim, one of the founders of German retail group Metro , took his own life after being diagnosed with an incurable illness, his family company said on Monday.
He was found dead at his home near the Tegernsee lake in Bavaria on Monday morning.
The Beisheim Group said Otto Beisheim, 89, had lost hope after his diagnosis.
He helped introduce to Germany in the 1960s the concept of "cash and carry", 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" in a statement.
"With his self-service cash and carry concept, he revolutionized the sector in the mid 1960s," Metro Chief Executive Olaf Koch said.
Along with cash and carries, Metro also runs supermarkets, consumer electronic stores and department stores and had turnover of 66.7 billion euros ($89 billion) in 2012.
A spokeswoman for the Beisheim group said there were no plans to sell the billionaire's stake in Metro of just under 10 percent.
The stake made him the third largest shareholder in Metro after 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.
Along with the stake in Metro, he was also behind the redevelopment of the Beisheim Center on Berlin's Potsdamer Platz, an office and shopping complex that houses five-star Ritz Carlton and Marriott hotels.