5 Companies Still Run By Families
In a world of large, faceless corporations, we ask the question: what exactly are the biggest family-owned businesses around?
Aug. 12, 2019

It was reported at the end of July that the family behind the name of retail giant Nordstrom were looking to take over a controlling share of their namesake. The family currently own a 31.2% stake in the American based chain and are looking to increase that to more than half.

This news sent shares up, which indicates support for family-led private businesses. There is some substance to this, as it was reported in 2017 that family owned businesses do in-fact perform better on average than their non-family-owned counterparts. With this in mind, we will take a look at 5 of the largest publicly-traded family-owned businesses in the world right now.

1. Novartis

Swiss-based pharmaceutical giant Novartis (SWX: NOVN) is one of the largest companies in the world, not just in family-owned businesses. In 2018, Novartis declared revenue of over $53 billion and has a current market cap of almost $210 billion. 

Formed in 1996 following the merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz, the largest single shareholder of Novartis is still the Sandoz family through The Sandoz Family Foundation. It is the foundation president, Pierre Landolt, who represents the family still on the Novartis board of directors. 

2. Berkshire Hathaway

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A) is one of the largest multinational conglomerates around, with a market cap of almost $500 billion and 2018 revenue of just shy of $250 billion. The president, CEO, and chairperson of this giant, Warren Buffett, is currently the 4th richest person on the planet. 

With 18% of the Share Capital Ownership and 32% voting rights, Buffett is the most important figure in the company and has left all of this, including ownership, to his family as inheritance. This means that when Buffett is no longer around, the company will remain within the family.

3. Walmart

Walmart (NYSE: WMT) is probably the most successful fully family-owned business of this entire list. With almost 12,000 stores worldwide, a market cap of roughly $320 billion and over 2.3 million employees, the Walton family have built themselves quite a dynasty. 

Read why Walmart is one of our 2 Recession Ready Stocks.

The company was founded by Sam Walton in 1962 and incorporated on October 31, 1969. The family still own over 50% stake of the chain-store giant, with brothers Rob and Jim Walton sit on the Board of Directors, while sister Alice and sister-in-law Christy each have a net worth of $35 billion. Cousins Ann Walton Kroenke and Nancy Walton Laurie are also billionaires from their company shares. This is truly one of the great family businesses.

4. Facebook

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) may not be the first company that comes to mind when thinking about a family business, but Mark is not the only Zuckerberg with power within the social media giant, which -- despite recent controversy -- still has a market cap of roughly $550 billion. 

Read Why Facebook is Shortening the Leash on its Top Apps.

Mark himself is both founder and CEO, and still controls roughly one third-third of the business, while his older sister Randi owns a substantial share and was a marketing executive for the company for several years before leaving to begin her own venture. Mark also gave his father 2 million shares in the company as a thank you for all the financial backing and support when the company was just getting off the ground.

5. Samsung Electronics

Another company which you may not have realized was family-owned is the South Korean tech giant Samsung (KRX:005930). With a market cap of $287 billion and revenue in 2018 of $219.34 billion, the Lee Byung-Chul founded company has come a long way through years of keeping it in the Lee family.

Byung-Chul's son Lee Kun-Hee was instrumental in making the company what it is today and remains chairman of Samsung Group. his son (and expected successor) Jay Y. Lee is vice chairman, while his daughters Boo-Jin and Seo-Hyun also hold executive roles within the firm. 

MyWallSt operates a full disclosure policy. MyWallSt staff currently hold long positions in Facebook, Novartis and Berkshire Hathaway. Read our full disclosure policy here.

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