In this article we are going to list the 22 largest family-owned businesses in the world. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 5 largest family-owned businesses in the world.
When we think about family owned businesses, we don’t really go very large scale, do we? When I think of a business owned by a family, my brain goes to maybe owning a couple of shops or running your own restaurant. Even at its highest, my thoughts can move towards a few families I know who have a small factory and are a minor part of global industries.
However, this article isn’t about those companies. So what exactly constitutes a family owned business? Well, a private business is considered to be family owned when the family owns at least 50% of the shares of the company, while for a public company, the family only has to own 32% to maintain control and decisions. This article is about giant companies, where a few hundred million dollars is like pocket change and revenues generally tend to cross a hundred billion dollars. These family-owned companies have revenues and assets that surpass the GDP of most nations in the world, while providing employment to a population which can rival that of an average city. In fact, as you will read on you will find out that at least one company actually created an entire city to house its workforce.
Not only are these some of the biggest companies in the world, these are also some of the most powerful. The size and influence of these companies has given unparalleled power and influence to its owners as well. These owners and their companies of course, are some of the most famous families in the world, and in often cases, their influence has been exerted over decades, in some cases even leading to conspiracy theories regarding their power. When I talk about these companies in detail later on, I will also mention some of the conspiracies surrounding these companies where applicable. Often enough, the net worth of these individuals and families, who are often among the top 20 richest people in the world, can fluctuate with time but still, run into billions regardless. And over a hundred billion on a good day.
According to the Credit Suisse, out of a database of 920 family owned business which included business worth at least a billion dollars by market cap, these families were just from 35 countries and around 64% were actually from Emerging Asia. This is due to the fact that in more developed markets, families tend to sell their shareholdings with time, and only a third of all business ownerships lasted two generations, 12% of family owned businesses went on to a third generation and just 4% saw a fourth generation of the same family taking ownership. Despite these statistics, make no mistake, the largest family owned businesses in the world are still by far in the biggest and most developed countries in the world, with at least seven companies belonging to the United States of America. The reason behind this is due to the fact that America has always held an allure for the free spirit or the entrepreneur, and being the capitalistic giant that it is, encourages businesses to grow.
The biggest family owned businesses in the world have revenues crossing $2.3 trillion. On the other hand, these companies provide employment to over 6 million people directly and numerous millions of others indirectly. There are just 81 cities in the entire world which have a population of greater than 5 million, just to put this number into perspective. To calculate our rankings, we have considered both their revenues and their employment numbers. Other figures were much harder to get because of the fact that a lot of these companies are private and hence, do not disclose their financial information in the manner that public companies are required to do. So let’s look at the family owned business bigger than most countries starting with number 22:
22. Hanwha Corporation
Total revenue in 2019 (in billions of dollars): 43.2
Total number of employees in 2019: 5.575
Hanwha is a South Korean conglomerate and has diversified holdings which include explosives, retail and financial businesses.