Wednesday, 07 October 2015 19:29

Family Business

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The Lohner-Porsche, the first car built be Volkswagen and Porsche founder, Ferdinand Porsche

In a recent report released by Credit Suisse they introduced the CS Global Family 900 universe, which is a database of the 920 largest family-run businesses on the planet.


Companies on the list are publicly traded with market capitalizations of at least $US1 billion (VND22.5 trillion), as well as family-owned stakes of at least 20 percent. The companies are founded in 35 different countries and over 60% of them originate in Asia. An interesting related finding from the Family Business Institute in the US shows that only one third of family-owned businesses last into a second generation of ownership, 12% to a third and just 3% to a fourth.


Some of the companies on the list have been controlled by the same family for many generations and many have experienced public feuds between family members ranging from bribery to doing business with Hitler.


Below is a list of the top ten family owned companies. Spoiler alert — Walmart is only number three.


10) Nike


From the US with a market cap of $US882 billion, Nike is part of the Knight family. Phil Knight has been the face of the iconic Nike brand since he co-founded the company in 1964. Just last month, however, Nike announced that Knight will step down from his role as chairman in 2016. His son, Travis Knight, will take a seat on the board to continue the family legacy at the company.


9) Kinder Morgan


After leaving Enron, Richard Kinder co-founded Kinder Morgan in 1997. With a massive portfolio of oil and gas pipelines, the company is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Kinder and his wife Nancy are major Houston philanthropists through their Kinder Foundation.


8) Volkswagen


A German car company owned by the Piëch-Porsche family, the company is valued at over $US120 billion. Many members of the Piëch-Porsche family hold a majority stake in Volkswagen through their Porsche Automobile Holding Company. The Piëch-Porsches are descendants of Porsche founder Ferdinand Porsche, who was also a Nazi party member and designed the first Volkswagen for Adolf Hitler. Today at least five family members sit on the board of Volkswagen. Volkswagen brands include Porsche, Audi and Bentley.


7) Samsung Electronics


Controlled by the Lee family in South Korea, the company is worth over $US174 billion. Lee Kun-Hee helped grow his father’s company, Samsung Group, into a global conglomerate. He is chairman of the flagship business, Samsung Electronics, while his son (and expected successor) Jay Y. Lee is vice chairman. Daughters Boo-Jin and Seo-Hyun also hold executive roles within the firm.


6) Oracle


Larry Ellison is still chairman and chief technology officer of the software company, Oracle, which helped make him America’s third richest man. The company is valued at $US192 billion. He stepped down as CEO in September of 2014. While his children, Megan and David, both hold Oracle stock, it’s unlikely that they will take over the family business as they are both film producers.


5) Anheuser-Busch InBev


A Belgian beer company valued at $US197 billion, ABI is owned by the Lemann, Sicupira and Telles families. Private-equity group 3G Capital was behind the 2008 merger that led to the creation of Anheuser-Busch InBev. Today, 3G Principal Jorge Paulo Lemann — Brazil’s richest man — is the brewer’s largest shareholder. His partners Carlos Sicupira and Marcel Herrmann Telles also hold large stakes in the company. Together, the three men own about 26% of the company, and Lemann and Telles sit on the board of directors.


4) Facebook


Currently valued at $US225billion, Facebook is a creation of Zuckerberg family member Mark. Mark Zuckerberg has brought his family into his Facebook empire, which he still owns just under one-third of. His older sister Randi was a marketing executive at the company before leaving to start her own firm. Zuckerberg also gave his father 2 million shares of Facebook stock to thank him for providing him with some money during the company’s earliest years.


3) Walmart


The Walton family owns about half of Walmart through Walton Enterprises, according to Thomson Reuters data. The 50% stake is valuable enough to place the five heirs among the wealthiest people in the world. Brothers Rob and Jim Walton sit on the company’s board of directors, and along with sister, Alice, and sister-in-law, Christy, each have a net worth hovering around $US35 billion. Cousins Ann Walton Kroenke and Nancy Walton Laurie are also billionaires from their company shares. Rob Walton’s son-in-law, Gregory Penner, succeeded him as Walmart’s chairman last month.


2) Roche


Fritz Hofmann-La Roche founded a cough syrup company in 1898 that today develops some of the best cancer drugs in the world. Valued at $US254 billion, the heirs still control at least half of the company’s bearer shares, according to Bloomberg. The Hoffmann-Oeri family controls the company through their voting pool. The family has at least eight billionaires, including Dr. Andreas Oeri and André Hoffmann who both sit on the drug maker’s board of directors.


1) Novartis


A healthcare company based in Switzerland, it was founded by the Sandoz family. Novartis is one of the world’s biggest drug makers, created in 1996 after the merger between Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy. Today, the descendants of Edouard Sandoz (who founded Sandoz in 1886) own a substantial amount of Novartis shares. The Sandoz Family Foundation is the company’s single largest shareholder, and its president, Pierre Landolt, sits on Novartis’s board of directors. The company is worth an estimated $US279 billion.


Shane works in healthcare but is not a billionaire descendant of a founder. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Shane Dillon

Shane has written the Word business column since 2009. He left his home town of Brisbane, Australia in 2004 and has worked in several Asian countries as well as Guatemala and Ukraine. He is interested in economics and the subtleties of doing business in Asia. Shane works in the insurance industry and can be contacted at

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