The 500 largest family businesses generate US$8.02t and employ 24.5m people across 47 jurisdictions, according to 2023 EY and University of St.Gallen Family Business Index.
Longevity and stability continue to be a staple among the companies listed on the 2023 index, as more than three-quarters (76%) have been around for more than 50 years, and 31% are more than a century old.
This is further reinforced by their board structures, with almost one-quarter of all board seats (23%) being held by family members and nearly half (45%) having family members as CEOs.
Globally, around 6% have a female CEO, and women hold only 23% of all board seats. North America and Europe stand out on the index with female CEOs but still only around 7%.
When it comes to the distribution of board seats among family members, Europe leads the way with women occupying 25% of family-held board seats, considerably above the global average of 20%.
While most companies in the index are based in Europe (46%), the US is the leading individual jurisdiction (24%). Overall, exactly half of all the businesses in the index are located in Europe, Middle East, India and Africa.
Which are the biggest family businesses in Europe?
While the Walton’s owned Wal-Mart is the biggest family business in the world, German Schwarz Group is the biggest family owned business in Europe. Even more, Schwarz family still owns 100% of the group.
German based BMW and Robert Bosch GmbH are the next biggest family owned businesses in Europe, followed by France based LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, Luxembourg based Arcelor Mittal and Swiss Roche Group.