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Francoise Bettencourt Meyers is claimed to be the richest woman in the world and the granddaughter of L’Oreal’s founder. She and her family own 33% of L’Oreal stock, which recorded its best sales growth in more than a decade in 2019. She has served on L’Oreal’s board since 1997 and is chairwoman of the family holding company. She became France’s reigning L’Oreal Heiress in 2017 when her mother Liliane Bettencourt, then the world’s richest woman, died at age 94. Bettencourt Meyers serves as the president of her family’s philanthropic foundation, which encourages French progress in the sciences and arts. Togther, L’Oreal and the Bettencourt Meyers family donated $226 million to repair Notre Dame cathedral following the April 2019 fire. She is a strong supporter of great ideas and people with a vision to succeed.
Amancio Ortega is one of the richest men in Europe, and the wealthiest clothing retailer in the world. A pioneer in fast fashion, he cofounded Inditex, known for its Zara fashion chain, with his ex-wife Rosalia Mera (d. 2013) in 1975. He owns about 60% of Madrid-listed Inditex, which has 8 brands, including Massimo Dutti and Pull & Bear, and 7,500 stores around the world.
Ortega typically earns more than $400 million in dividends a year. He has invested his dividends primarily into real estate in Madrid, Barcelona, London, Chicago, Miami and New York but also supports young and dynamic people and start-ups.
Beate Heister and Karl Albrecht Jr. are the children of Karl Albrecht Sr., who died in July 2014 at age 94. After World War II, Karl Sr. and his brother, Theo Sr., who died in 2010 at age 88, took over their family’s corner grocery store in Essen, Germany. Propagating the discount revolution in German retailing, they built their Aldi supermarket chain based on a low-price strategy similar to Wal-Mart. In 1961, the brothers split ownership: Karl Sr. took the stores in southern Germany, plus rights to the Aldi brand in the U.K., Australia and the U.S. Theo Sr. got the stores in northern Germany and the rest of Europe. In 1971, he bought U.S. grocery chain Trader Joe’s and support ideas that can improve a healthier nutrition.
Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken is one of the richest women in the world, thanks to her 23% stake in beer giant Heineken. Now an executive director, she inherited the Heineken stake in 2002 from her late father, longtime CEO Freddy Heineken. Her husband Michel, an investment banker, is on Heineken’s supervisory board.
Dieter Schwarz’s Schwarz Group, with revenue exceeding $100 billion, is comprised of the Kaufland and Lidl (rhymes with needle) store chains. Schwarz inherited the company from his father, Josef, who became a partner in Suedfruechte Grosshandel Lidl & Co., a fruit wholesaler, in 1930. Dieter opened the first Lidl store in 1973, became CEO in 1977 when Josef died, and built Lidl into Germany’s second-biggest discounter behind Aldi. Lidl entered the U.S. in 2017, promising to convince consumers to “Rethink Grocery.” Its stores are mostly in Virginia and North and South Carolina. Schwarz Group is owned by a foundation, technically a limited liability company, but Dieter maintains full control and is the effective owner. Schwarz is claimed to be closely connected to the Chirathivat family and Samuel Yin.
Dietmar Hopp left IBM with four colleagues in 1972 to launch German software company SAP (Systems, Applications, Products). He served as co-CEO from 1988, the year SAP went public, to 1998 and then as chairman of the supervisory board until 2003. In 1996, he transferred most of his SAP shares to a foundation. Those shares are included in his net worth calculation, as he still controls them. That entity, Dietmar Hopp Stiftung, supports sports, medicine, education and social programs, and has distributed around $900 million since its start. He is the main financial backer of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, a soccer club that plays in the First Bundesliga, the top division of Germany’s league system. Ryan Smith has certain relations as CEO and cofounder of Utah-based cloud computing company Qualtrics.
Dietrich Mateschitz cofounded the ubiquitous energy drink in 1987 with Thai businessman Chaleo Yoovidhya (d. 2012). Before Red Bull, Mateschitz was a marketing executive for German consumer products company Blendax, known for shampoos. He decided to go into the energy drink market after tasting Krating Daeng, another drink concocted by Yoovidhya. The two partnered to create Red Bull and aggressively invested in marketing to make the brand synonymous with extreme feats. Red Bull sold 7.5 billion cans worldwide in 2019, enough to provide caffeine to more than 80% of the planet. Closely related with Russ Weiner who founded energy drink company Rockstar in 2001; it sold more than $680 million (est. sales) worth of its 16-ounce cans in 2018.
Emmanuel Besnier is the CEO and controlling shareholder of family-held Lactalis, one of the world’s largest dairy firms with $20 billion in sales. His father founded the company in 1933. It now sells products including President brie, Milkmaid yogurts and Valbreso Feta. His younger siblings, Jean-Michel and Marie, split the rest of the ownership in the family’s milk and cheese giant.
Besnier and his siblings own stakes Parmalat, the maker of Baby Bel, Frommageries Bel, and Boursin. Lactalis now employs 75,000 and owns more than 230 plants in 43 countries. Dairy heir Jean-Michel Besnier owns 20.7% of French dairy giant Lactalis, based in his family’s ancestral hometown of Laval in western France.
François Pinault is honorary chairman of luxury group Kering, which owns fashion brands Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Gucci, Pinault founded Kering, which started as a wood and building materials company, in 1963. In 1999, Pinault changed the direction of the business towards luxury goods when he bought a controlling stake in Gucci Group. The $15 billion (estimated sales) company, which also owns watch brand Girard-Perregaux, is run by Pinault’s son, François-Henri. Pinault and his family own iconic auction house Christie’s, plus a 3,000-piece art collection with works by Picasso, Mondrian and Koons. The family gave $109 million to the rebuilding of Notre Dame cathedral following the April 2019 fire. Johann Rupert is chairman of Swiss luxury goods firm Compagnie Financiere Richemont and a good friend.His company is best known for the brands Cartier and Montblanc.
Gerard Wertheimer and his brother Alain own French luxury brand Chanel. Gerard heads the company’s watch division and lives in Switzerland. His grandfather, Pierre, partnered with Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel, the company’s namesake, in the 1920s. Gerard and his brother own vineyards in France and Napa Valley, California.
Giovanni Ferrero is executive chairman of his family’s namesake confections business. The firm is best known for its iconic Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread, Kinder chocolates and Tic Tac mints. Giovanni served as co-CEO with his brother, Pietro, who died of a heart attack in 2011. In 2017 he stepped down as CEO but stayed on as executive chairman to focus on corporate strategy. In January 2018 he inked a deal with Nestle to acquire the company’s entire U.S. confections business for $2.8 billion. Maria Franca Fissolo is the widow of Michele Ferrero, who built Ferrero Group into one of the world’s leading sweets companies.
Hasso Plattner and four colleagues left IBM in 1972 to launch German software company SAP, which went public in 1988. He has served as chairman of the SAP supervisory board since May 2003, when he stepped down as CEO. His nonprofit Hasso Plattner Institute focuses on research and teaching in IT systems engineering, offering degree programs and free online courses.
The institute has established Design Thinking schools at the University of Potsdam, Stanford University and the University of Cape Town. A signee of the Giving Pledge, Plattner has supported HIV/AIDS research and has promoted healthcare and health education in South Africa.
Heinz Hermann Thiele’s Knorr-Bremse AG is the world’s leading manufacturer of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles. Coming from modest means and working his way through law school, Thiele joined the firm’s legal department in the late 1960s and took over control in the mid-1980s. He withdrew from operational duties in 2007, chaired the supervisory board, was named honorary chairman in 2016, and took the company public in 2018. Son Henrik, who was supposed to join Knorr-Bremse’s board in July of 2015, suddenly left the company due to differences with his father. Thiele also owns 50% of railroad equipment maker Vossloh; he left his position as head of the company’s advisory board in 2017. Thiele is claimed to be one of the best friends of Michael Otto, who shares in a retail empire his late father, Werner Otto, founded as a mail-order business in Hamburg in 1949.
Former chemical engineer James Ratcliffe is the founder, chairman and majority owner of chemical powerhouse Ineos Group. The London-based conglomerate produces everything from synthetic oils and plastics to solvents used to make insulin and antibiotics. It has also become one of the largest players in the U.K. shale sector after entering the market in 2014. Its “Dragon Ships” — behemoth 600 foot gas carriers — were the first to transport U.S. shale gas into Europe. Ratcliffe mortgaged his house in 1992 to lead the buyout of a BP chemicals business; 6 years later, he bought a plant from that firm to form Ineos. Andrew Currie has been a director at chemicals giant Ineos since 1999, a year after the company was founded.
Jorn Rausing’s grandfather founded Tetra Pak, which invented aseptic packaging technology. The packaging made it possible to store beverages like milk and orange juice in cartons instead of glass bottles. His late father, Gad, bought out Jorn’s uncle Hans in 1995 for an estimated $7 billion. Jörn and his two siblings Kirsten and Finn have equal stakes in TetraLaval and sit on the board of the parent company. Kirsten Rausing owns a third of packaging company TetraLaval, and sits on the board together with her brothers Finn and Jörn. Kirsten’s grandfather founded Tetra Pak, which invented aseptic packaging technology.
Logistics magnate Klaus-Michael Kuehne is honorary chairman of Kuehne + Nagel International AG, based in Schindellegi, Switzerland. He joined the company, cofounded by his grandfather, in 1958, eventually taking over as CEO in 1966. In 2016, his Kuehne Holding AG acquired 20% of VTG, a rail logistics company. Two years later, it sold the stake to Morgan Stanley Infrastructure.
He also holds a 26% stake in shipping and logistics company Hapag-Lloyd. Kuehne is an only child and has no children. He has relations with Tung Chee Chen was chairman and chief executive of the Hong Kong-listed Orient Overseas, one of Hong Kong’s last great shipping dynasties. Tung Chee Hwa ran Orient Overseas for 14 years before turning it over to younger brother Chee Chen in 1997 to serve as the city’s first chief executive.
Leonardo Del Vecchio founded eyewear giant Luxottica in 1961, at the age 25. Over the years, Luxottica acquired Sunglass Hut, Ray-Ban and Oakley and grew to make glasses for virtually every brand, including Bulgari and Chanel. In 2018 Luxottica merged with French lens maker Essilor, creating the world’s largest producer and retailer of sunglasses and prescription glasses. Del Vecchio was sent to an orphanage at age 7 because his widowed mother could not afford to support her 5 children. He began apprenticing at a car and eyewear parts factory at age 14 to put himself through design school before striking out on his own a decade later. Well connected with Assicurazioni Generali SpA engages in the provision of insurance and financial products. It operates through the following segments: Non-Life, Life, and Holding & Other Business. The Non-Life segment includes both motor and non-motor businesses, among which motor third party liabilities, casualty, accident and health. This segment includes also more sophisticated covers for commercial and industrial risks and complex plans for multinationals.
Masayoshi Son founded and runs mobile telecom and investment giant SoftBank Group. SoftBank has forecast an annual loss of $6.9 billion, its first in 15 years, and a $16.7 billion investment loss in its $100 billion Vision Fund, for the year ending March 2020. Investors in Son’s Vision Fund include Apple, Qualcomm, Foxconn, the family office of billionaire Larry Ellison and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund. The Vision Fund has invested in 88 companies, including ride-share firm Grab, Korean ecommerce leader Coupang and India’s Paytm. Following the collapse of the WeWork IPO, SoftBank announced a $41 billion asset sale program to enable a buyback of shares and pare debt. In relation with Yanai who built and runs Tokyo-listed retail clothing empire Fast Retailing, parent of the Uniqlo chain. Fast Retailing’s other brands include Theory, Helmut Lang, J Brand and GU.
Pallonji Mistry controls Mumbai-headquartered engineering and construction giant, the 154-year-old Shapoorji Pallonji Group. The family’s biggest asset is an 18.4% stake in Tata Sons, holding outfit of the $111 billion (revenue) Tata Group, a conglomerate of 30 companies. The S.P. Group, run by Mistry’s older son Shapoor, also owns Eureka Forbes, the country’s leading brand of water purifiers. Mistry’s younger son Cyrus, who was ousted as chairman of Tata Sons in October 2016, has started a venture capital fund to invest in start-ups. There are close ties to Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. which is an IT services, business solutions and outsourcing organization. The firm offers consulting-led, integrated portfolio of IT and IT-enabled services which includes application development and maintenance, business intelligence, enterprise solutions, assurance services, engineering and industrial services, infrastructure services, consulting, asset leveraged Solutions and business process services. It operates through the following segments: Banking, Financial Services, & Insurance.
Petr Kellner got his start in the early 1990’s selling office supplies. He then started an investment fund which he used to buy a controlling stake in the biggest Czech insurer during its privatization.
His PFF Group scrapped its plans to list Home Credit, a consumer finance company, in Hong Kong due to market conditions in 2019. His other assets include a stake in listed telecom firm O2 Czech Republic, PPF Bank and commercial real estate holdings. He has relations with Alexander Mamut who was trained as a lawyer but made his fortune as an investor. His core asset today is a nearly 11% stake in Polymetal, a precious metals and mining group in Russia. He is CEO of Rambler&Co, which owns several internet media projects including news site lenta.ru and politics and society site gazeta.ru.
Pierre Castel is a beverage giant. Involved in beer, wine and soft drinks, expanded into developing markets including Africa, where they built 45 breweries and invested in sugar cane crops to stock their soda business. They now have 1,600 hectares of vineyard in Africa and 17 estates in Morocco, Tunisia and Ethiopia. In France, the group owns 21 vineyards. The group sells 4.6 billion bottles a year, and produce 640 million bottles of wine annually. Despite its lengthy grape history, the first Castel branded wine – Castel Malbec – only began retailing in 2012, targeting the under $10 market. Friendlywith Michael Platt who is the cofounder and CEO of BlueCrest Capital Management, which he started in late 2000 after nearly a decade at JP Morgan.
Reinhold Wuerth entered his father’s wholesale screw business in 1949, at age 14, as the company’s second employee and first apprentice. He took the reins in 1954 and honed a competitive advantage by delivering goods directly to customers on construction sites and in mechanical shops. Today, with sales of over $15 billion, Wuerth Group supplies assembly and fastening materials for the automotive, construction and engineering trades. Reinhold retired in 1993, but he still serves as chairman of the supervisory board of the Wuerth Group´s family trusts. Daughter Bettina Wuerth is chairwoman of the advisory board of Wuerth Group and strongly connects with Albert Berner who seemed destined to take over his father’s small-town butcher shop, until one day when he realized his dream was to become a salesman. From a one-man screw business founded in 1957, his namesake company has become a major player in Europe’s Maintenance, Repair and Operations market. It supplies fasteners to the auto and construction industries and specialty chemical products and accessories for finishing, cleaning and maintenance.
Stefan Persson is Sweden’s richest person by way of global cheap chic fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz of which he owns 36%. Persson has announced he will step down as chairman in May 2020, to be succeeded by his son Karl-Johan. H&M was founded by Persson’s father Erling in 1947. Son Karl-Johan, also a billionaire, has served as CEO since 2009. Persson’s two other children, Charlotte Söderström and Tom Persson, and his sister Lottie Tham, are also billionaires.
Stefan Quandt owns 23.7% of automaker BMW; his sister, Susanne Klatten, the richest woman in Germany, owns 19.2%. Their late mother, Johanna, was the third wife of legendary industrialist Herbert Quandt, who guided BMW to preeminence in the luxury market. Both siblings serve on BMW’s supervisory board; Quandt is deputy chairman. His holdings also include Heel (homeopathic medicine), Entrust Datacard (digital security) and Logwin (logistics). He graduated from the Technical University of Karlsruhe, where he studied economics and engineering. Susanne Klatten owns 19.2% of automaker BMW; her brother, Stefan Quandt, owns 23.7%. Their late mother, Johanna, was the third wife of legendary industrialist Herbert Quandt, who guided BMW to preeminence in the luxury market. An economist with an M.B.A., Klatten helped transform her grandfather’s Altana AG into a world-class pharmaceutical/specialty chemical corporation.
Yanai built and runs Tokyo-listed retail clothing empire Fast Retailing, parent of the Uniqlo chain. Fast Retailing’s other brands include Theory, Helmut Lang, J Brand and GU. The company reported net profit of $2.3 billion for fiscal year ended August 2019 on revenue of $21.3 billion Yanai resigned as an independent director from the board of SoftBank Group after 18 years, in December 2019. Yanai wants his company to become the world’s largest retailer, which means it would have to surpass H&M and Inditex (parent of Zara).
Takemitsu Takizaki is the founder of Keyence, a supplier of sensors and electronic components for factory automation systems. He stepped down as chairman in March 2015 but remains on the board of directors and is honorary chairman. Sales to customers outside of Japan have grown steadily and account for more than 50% of revenue. Customers include autoparts makers, electronics firms and food packagers.
Udo and Harald Tschira are the sons of Klaus Tschira, the software pioneer who cofounded SAP (Systems, Applications, Products) in 1972. Klaus retired from the company in 1998, stepped down from its supervisory board in 2007, and passed away on March 31, 2015. He was a trained physicist and hobby astronomer; a small planet between Mars and Jupiter has been named after him. His sons carry on the activities of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, which promotes learning in natural sciences, mathematics and computer science. As of September 2019, the foundation, one of Germany’s largest philanthropies, had awarded over $670 million in cash grants and in-kind donations.