More than 40% of the names on the annual Forbes’ billionaire list are family business principals, or linked to family business fortunes, and out of the top 10 richest people in the world, seven are linked to family businesses.
Prominent family principals like Carlos Slim, Barnard Arnault, Lakshmi Mittal, Amancio Ortega, and David Thomson dominate the top spots on the list with huge fortunes. Slim, number one for the second year running, was estimated to be worth $74 billion. Perennial Forbes billionaire favourites – Bill Gates and Warren Buffett – took the next two places, but Bernard Arnault (pictured), the man behind family-controlled LVMH, moved up to 4th position from 7th with a fortune estimated at $41 billion.
The Walton family, the name behind America’s biggest supermarket chain Wal-Mart, took up four places in the top 25. Other prominent family fortunes that made the top 100 names include the Persson, Bettencourt, Kwok and Ferrero families.
Family business billionaires are especially represented in the big emerging economies like Brazil, India and Mexico, where powerful business dynasties are being created. Even in China and Russia – where up until recently the legacy of communism has precluded second generation and beyond family businesses – there is growing evidence of robust family business structures being put in place among many of the billionaires on the list.
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