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  • Rovindu Ambagolla

Special Edition >>> Meet the Ten Richest Business Families in the World

Picture Credit: Christine Roy

The pandemic was a difficult time for many businesses all around the world, as the world economy plummeted into a recession, many business owners and households struggled to make ends meet. Making a “profit” was almost unheard of at the peak of the pandemic last year, unless of course you were part of an elite, ultra-rich family with access to a generational family fortune. Rich families profited immensely even throughout the pandemic and their family fortunes continue to grow.

As the saying goes, “the rich get richer”, so let’s take a look at the ten richest families in the world and the massive amounts of wealth they have generated through the years.

10. Boehringer, Von Baumbach

The Boehringer family is heir to Boehringer Ingelheim, a German pharmaceutical company founded in 1885 by Albert Boehringer. Their family fortune stands strong at $59 billion. Boehringer Ingelheim’s top seller, a Type 2 diabetes drug hurled in an estimated $2.9 billion in revenue in 2020 alone.

9. Thomson Family

The Thomson family is Canada’s richest family. The majority of their wealth originates from Thomson Reuters, a multinational media company of which they hold 66% of stakes in. Roy Thomson started the family business in 1934 when he purchased his first radio station, since then the family has amassed a fortune surpassing $61 billion. Before Roy’s death in 1976, he set up trust funds to make sure the family fortune stays in the hands of family members even after his death.

- David Thomson (chairman at Thomson Reuters) Picture Source- Reuters Website

8. Johnson Family

Edward C. Johnson II founded the company Fidelity Investments in 1946 just after World War II in Boston. The company has made a fortune over $61 billion dollars and is currently run by Edward’s granddaughter Abigail Johnson.

7. Wertheimer Family

The popular luxury fashion chain “Chanel” is owned by the Wertheimer brothers, Alain and Gerard Wertheimer after their grandfather’s investment in the company back in 1924. The family also owns multiple racehorses and vineyards. The Wertheimer family is one of the few ultra-rich families to be adversely affected by the pandemic, as demand for Chanel fell in 2020 the family received a net dividend payment of $0. This is in stark contrast to the $1.7 billion they received as dividend in 2019, but their family net worth still stands at almost $62 billon.

6. Ambani Family

Dhirubhai Ambani was an Indian business tycoon who created Reliance Industries, an Indian multinational conglomerate company which has its headquarters in Mumbai. After his death in 2002 , the family fortune was split between Dhirubhai’s two sons, Mukesh and Anil Ambani. Mukesh Ambani now steers Reliance Industries, and the company rakes in more than $68 billion in revenue and owns the world’s biggest oil refining complex. The family wealth is an estimated $93 billion and Mukesh Ambani and his family reside in a 27-story mansion in the heart of Mumbai named “Antilia”, which was estimated to have costed the family $2.6 billion.

-Antilia , Ambani's private residence Picture Source - Architectural Digest India website

5. Al Saud Family

The Al Saud family or “The House of Saud” is the royal family of Saudi Arabia. The family controls assets worth more than $100 billion, but the extended family spans across more than 15,000 members so the collective value could be even higher. Many of the royal family members have made their money through brokering government contracts and founding companies that service state companies, but majority of their wealth was built on oil and their close association with Aramco, the Saudi Arabian oil company which is one of the biggest in the world. The Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman personally controls assets worth more than $1 billion.

4. Hermès Family

Hermès is a French luxury fashion brand which was founded in 1834 by Thierry Hermès. The family wealth runs through almost six generations and stands at an enormous $111 billion. The company is famous for its luxury Birkin handbags which sometimes costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

3. Koch Family

Fred C. Koch was a chemical engineer who founded an oil refinery which would later become Koch industries. Koch Industries is now a conglomerate which has a revenue of more than $115 billion per year and is led by Charles Koch. The net family wealth surpasses $124 billion.

2. Mars Family

Frank Mars started selling candy back in 1902 at the age of 19. The company he stared grew to become a multinational manufacturer and is ranked the 6th largest privately owned company in America. Mars Incorporated makes almost $33 billion in revenue every year and the Mars family closely holds the ownership of the company. The wealth of the family runs down five generations and has accumulated to almost $142 billion.

1.Walton Family

At number one on this list is the family that owns Walmart. Walmart is a global retail chain which has 10,500 stores worldwide. Walmart generates $559 billion in revenue every year and the Walton family owns a 48% stake in the business. The family’s wealth stands at an enormous $238 billion, almost $100 billion ahead of the Mars Family fortune. Last year the company issued $2.8 billion in special bonuses to help their US workers through the pandemic.

Picture Source- Business Insider Website

These are just the top ten wealthiest families in the world. In 2020 as the world struggled with the Coronavirus, the top 25 wealthiest families in the world added almost $312 billion to their collective family fortunes.

“It’s been the perfect storm for dynastic wealth accumulation” commented Bob Lord, an Arizonian based tax attorney. The massive sums of wealth that these families inherited is protected by weak tax laws and legal loopholes that allow tax avoidance. Some of these insanely wealthy families lobby and fund politicians that will keep the laws that way to protect their family fortunes.

The monetary and political power these families have a foothold on is immense as they have the money to back their positions. The gap between the rich and the poor is continuously widening, and it’s important to have progressive tax laws which will help reduce this gap between the rich and poor. President Biden and many other Democrats have proposed many ways in which the ultra-rich could be taxed further, but it’s difficult to initiate change with the resistance put up by some of these families. Karen Harding, head of the private wealth group NEPC, comments that these families “can plan for anything, they just need to know what it is”.

November 26th 2021 | 01:10 AM

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