Meet 12 families who control $1.1 trillion
LONDON - Inheriting massive wealth is a rare privilege, but some families have managed to establish fortunes that span multiple generations.
Indeed, 25 families have amassed $1.1 trillion of the world's wealth, often with grandchildren and great-grandchildren still reaping the rewards of their industrious forefathers.
Major multi-generational inheritances have been spawned by the oil, fashion and newspaper industries, as well as retail giants, automakers and candy companies, among others - and 11 American companies made the list for generating the world's biggest family fortunes, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
1. Walton Family, Walmart: $151.5 billion
Sam Walton founded what would become Walmart – the source of the world's biggest family fortune - when he bought his first retail store in 1945. He died in 1992, when his oldest son Rob became chairman of the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company. Walmart has grown to become the world's largest retailer and has an annual $500 billion in sales through its 12,000 stores around the globe. Steuart Walton remains on the company's board.
2. Koch Family, Koch Industries: $98.7 billion
Fred Koch cofounded the Wood River Oil and Refining Company in 1940, which his sons – Frederick, Charles, David and William – inherited. The brothers feuded over control of the industrial company in the early 1980s, leading to the departure of Frederick and William. Charles and David stayed on, developing the Wichita, Kansas-based company into Koch Industries, a conglomerate with revenues of roughly $100 billion a year. David Koch announced he was stepping down from the family business for health reasons this month.
3. Mars Family, Mars: $89.7 billion
Frank Mars, born in 1883, learned to hand-dip chocolates as a child. He went on to found Mars, known for its many milk chocolates treats, including M&Ms, Milky Way and Mars bars. Pet care products now make up almost half of the $35 billion in revenue the company generates each year. The Mars family owns the entire company, based in McLean, Virginia.
4. Van Damme, De Spoelberch and De Mevius Families, Anheuser-Busch Inbev: $54.1 billion
Three Belgian families run Anheuser Busch beverage company. De Spoelberch and De Mevius were already in working together when the Van Damme joined the partnership in 1987 after Piedboeuf and Artois merged, leading to the creation of Interbrew – which went on to merge with Brazil's AmBev in 2004. Some of the families invest through Verlinvest, which manages more than $2 billion in assets.
5. Dumas Family, Hermes: $49.2 billion
Hermes was established in Paris in 1837 when Thierry Hermes began making riding gear for noblemen. His grandsons, Emile Maurice Hermes and Adolphe Hermes took over as joint presidents of the luxury goods company in 1902. It was Jean-Louis Dumas who is considered the reason Hermes has evolved into an iconic global luxury brand. He died in 2010, though family members still have senior positions in the company, including chairman Axel Dumas.
6. Wertheimer Family, Chanel: $45.6 billion
Pierre Wertheimer negotiated a perfume contract with Coco Chanel in 1924, sealing the fate of his family's financial future. After his death, son Jacques Wertheimer – whom Coco Chanel called 'the kid' took over the company. Now brothers Alain and Gerard own the Paris fashion house, which had revenues of $9.6 billion in 2017.
7. Ambani Family, Reliance Industries: $43.4 billion
Dhirubhai Ambani set out in 1957 to build the industrial company that later would become Reliance Industries, based in Mumbai, India. His death in 2002 led to friction between his sons, Mukesh and Anil, as he didn't leave a will. His widow eventually brokered an agreement between her sons for how the family fortune would be controlled. Mukesh was named chairman of the world's largest oil refining complex in 2002. His home is a 27-story mansion that has been referred to as the most expensive private residence in the world.
8. Quandt Family, BMW: $42.7 billion
BMW was struggling when Herbert Quandt inherited the automotive business in 1954. He helped turn the company around, making it one of the world's most-respected makers of luxury vehicles. He later increased the family's holdings in Munich-based company to 50 percent. The family still retains control of the company and has diversified investments.
9. Cargill and MacMillan Families, Cargill: $42.3 billion
William W. Cargill founded Cargill, a food agriculture and industrial company, in 1865 with one grain storage warehouse in Conover, Iowa, in 1865. His descendants maintain control of the company, which is now based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
10. Boehringer and von Baumbach Families: $42.2 billion
Albert Boehringer founded Boehringer Ingelheim drug company in Germany in 1885 after buying a small tartar factory. The family, which encompasses the von Baumbachs, still control the company. Hubertus von Baumbach is the chairman of the business, based in Ingelheim, Germany.
11. Albrecht Family, Aldi: $38.8 billion
The Albrecht family opened a grocery store in Essen, Germany in 1913 that would later evolve into Aldi, based in Essen and Mullheim, Germany. Sons Theo and Karl Albrecht took it over after they returned from World War II and forged Aldi, a national chain low-cost supermarkets. The brothers had a dispute about the business's direction in the 1960s and split it into two branches – Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud. Altogether they have more than 10,000 stores. Theo's side of the family bought Trader Joe's in 1979.
12. Mulliez Family, Auchan: $37.5 billion
Gerard Mulliez was born in 1931 to a family that owned a clothing company. He went on to found the Auchan supermarket chain in 1961. Known as 'France's Walmart,' Lille, France-based Auchan has spread across Europe to become one of the continent's largest chains. The family's holding company, Association Familiale Mulliez, still controls a mix of retail businesses, including home improvement chain.