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Old Money Dynasties - The Families Who Own the World

The Business of Family
Old Money Dynasties - The Families Who Own the World
By Mike Boyd • Issue #20 • View online
A lot of these family names will be familiar, while some are more obscure. My goal is to encourage us all to return our sight to the “long view” once again and away from the constant US Election updates which will soon be another mark in history.
I hope you enjoy following the threads of history of these accomplished families, listed below in no particular order:
  • The Agnelli family is an Italian multi-industry business dynasty founded by Giovanni Agnelli, one of the original founders of Fiat motor company which became Italy’s largest manufacturer. They are also primarily known for investing in Ferrari (1969), Lancia (1969), Alfa Romeo (1986) and Chrysler, the latter acquired by Fiat after it filed for bankruptcy in 2009. The Agnelli family is also known for managing and being majority owners of the Italian football club Juventus F.C. since the club’s conversion to a public company in 1967. As of 2020, the extended Agnelli family comprised about two hundred members.
  • The Anheuser family is a family from the Nahe in Germany. The American brewery family of Anheuser-Busch fame are descendants of Eberhard Anheuser. The Anheuser family has been producing German wine in the Nahe since the 17th century and has continued producing wine for 13 generations under the name of Weingut Paul Anheuser.
  • Don Facundo Bacardí Masso was a Spanish businessman who, in 1862, founded the eponymous Bacardi rum distillery. Son of a family of bricklayers. He followed his older brothers to Cuba, finding employment in their general store in Santiago. Over time, he saved up his own capital, and in 1844 he established his own mercantile shop before experimenting with distilling rum.
  • The Bonnier family is a Swedish family, originally of Jewish descent, who since the beginning of the 19th century has been active in the book industry and later also in the mass media industry. They own the media group Bonnier Group which boasts 175 companies in 18 countries.
  • The Cadbury family is a prominent British family of Quaker industrialists descending from Richard Tapper Cadbury (1768–1860) draper and abolitionist, who financed his sons’ start-up business. John Cadbury (1801–1889), family patriarch and founder of the Cadbury chocolate company working with two brothers. Barrow Cadbury (1862–1958), head of the chocolate factory, founder of the Barrow Cadbury Trust.
  • The Du Pont family is a prominent American family descended from Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739–1817). It has been one of the richest families in the United States since the mid-19th century, when it founded its fortune in the gunpowder business. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it expanded its wealth through the chemical industry and the automotive industry with substantial interests in the DuPont company, General Motors, and various other corporations.
  • The Merck family is a German family of industrialists and bankers, known for establishing the world’s oldest pharmaceutical company Merck, its American former subsidiary Merck & Co. (MSD), which is now an independent company, as well as the Hamburg merchant bank H. J. Merck & Co. The family still owns the majority of the pharmaceutical company Merck.
  • The Porsche-Piëch family is a prominent Austrian-German family of industrialists descending from the automotive pioneer Ferdinand Porsche. Its members have full control of the Porsche SE automobile company and majority voting rights over Volkswagen AG, the biggest automaker in the world. Currently the family members hold Austrian citizenship and residency.
  • The Sassoon family, known as Rothschilds of the East” due to the immense wealth they accumulated in finance and trade, is a family of Baghdadi Jewish descent. Originally based in Baghdad, Iraq, they later moved to Bombay, India, and then spread to China, England, and other countries. From the 18th century, the Sassoons were one of the wealthiest families in the world, with a corporate empire spanning the entire continent of Asia.
  • The Sawiris family is an Egyptian Coptic family that owns the Orascom conglomerate, spanning telecommunications, construction, tourism, industries and technology. In 2008, Forbes estimated the family’s net worth at $36 billion. Onsi Sawiris (born in 1930), now retired, is the patriarch of the family. Various companies in the group are run by Onsi Sawiris’ three sons.
  • Taittinger is a French wine family who are famous producers of Champagne. The estate is headed by Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger (born 1953), a member of the consultative committee of the Banque de France. Its diversified holdings included Champagne Taittinger, Société du Louvre and Concorde Hotels, whose flagship is the famed Hotel de Crillon on the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
  • The Thyssen family has notable members, all of whom descend from Friedrich Thyssen, who have established steel works, elevators and escalators, industrial conglomerates, banks, and art collections - Thyssen AGThyssenKrupp and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Originating from Germany, family members have taken up residence in various countries.
  • The Zóbel de Ayalas are among several Filipino families listed in Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s richest people. The family owns and controls Ayala Corporation, the country’s largest and oldest conglomerate that includes the Bank of the Philippine IslandsAyala Land Inc., the Manila Water Company, and Globe Telecom, one of the largest mobile phone networks in the Philippines. Ayala Corporation, formerly known as Ayala y Compañia, (established in 1876) evolved from a series of partnerships beginning with Casa Róxas, a partnership established in 1834 between Domingo Róxas and Antonio de Ayala. At present, the family continues to hold the controlling stake in the company through its holding company Mermac, Inc.
  • The Chearavanont family who own The Charoen Pokphand Group, one of the world’s biggest producers of livestock and animal feed, was established in Bangkok in the 1920s by two brothers. The group now encompasses interests in investments and telecoms, and is run by one of the brothers’ sons, Dhanin (pictured), whose own sons are also actively involved in the business. The family is Thailand’s richest after the country’s royal dynasty.

Recommended Book:
Bubble in the Sun: The Florida Boom of the 1920s and How It Brought on the Great Depression
This Week's Podcast Episode:
I particularly enjoyed Crystal's story of her Father + Daughter Annual Trips
I particularly enjoyed Crystal's story of her Father + Daughter Annual Trips
This kind comment refers to the episode with Tiho Brkan. Thank you!
This kind comment refers to the episode with Tiho Brkan. Thank you!
If you would like to leave a review for the podcast, this link will prompt you to open iTunes directly where you can leave a comment. Thank you!
Interesting links:
Taittinger Heirs and French Bank Buy Back Champagne House | Wine Spectator
Rich pickings - A flat-tax scheme is luring the wealthy to Italy | Europe | The Economist
Fiat Chrysler’s Elkann Keeps Family Support in Wake of Busted Merger Talks - WSJ
Covid forces Hong Kong elite to stay home and consider uncertain future | Financial Times
Stay in touch
Mike Boyd is the co-owner and CEO of the Vroom Group, Founder of Prosura insurance, Investor at Mudbrick Capital, Host of The Business of Family Podcast and an active member of YPO.
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Mike Boyd

I'm inspired by multi-generational businesses and the families who steward them.

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