8. The Bettencourt Family, France
Estimated Net Worth: $42.7 billion
In 1909, a young French-German chemist named Eugene Schueller developed a unique hair dye formula. Since Paris was the fashion capital of the world at the time, Eugene found a natural market among wealthy Parisians and hair salons, which eventually grew into cosmetics giant L’Oréal S.A. (OTC: LRLCY). His daughter, Liliane, eventually assumed control over the company after the deaths of her father and husband Andre Bettencourt. As of 2016, Liliane Bettencourt is the wealthiest woman in the world.
7. The Cargill-MacMillan Family, US
Estimated Net Worth: $45 billion
The only private company worth more than Koch Industries is Cargill Inc., founded by William Wallace Cargill in 1865. Eighty-eight percent of the company is owned by the Cargill-MacMillan family. This family boasts more known billionaires, 14, than any other family in the world.
6. The Slim Family, Mexico
Estimated Net Worth: $77.1 billion
Carlos Slim Helu was Forbes Magazine’s fourth-wealthiest person in the world for 2016. He ranked first between 2010 and 2013. Slim founded Grupo Carso, a conglomerate that controls approximately 40% of the equity value on the Mexico Stock Exchange. He runs the empire with the help of his sons.
5. The Mars Family, US
Estimated Net Worth: $80 billion
The Mars family drew most of its fortune from candy. Mars Inc. is the world’s largest private candy company, and it has been putting sweets on shelves since 1911. Franklin Mars founded the company, but son Forrest is credited with adding the Mars Bar and M&Ms.
4.The Koch Family, US
Estimated Net Worth: $89 billion
Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the world, is a multinational conglomerate with interests in oil, real estate, ranching, commodity trading, chemicals, finance, fertilizer and household items. Fred C. Koch launched the company as an oil refinery in 1940, but it really took off under the control of his sons Charles and David, who bought out brothers Bill and Frederick in 1983.
3. The Walton Family, US
Estimated Net Worth: $152 billion
Sam Walton built his family’s retail shopping empire over a relatively short period of time. He cut his teeth in variety store franchises in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In July 1962, Walton opened the first Walmart store, then called Walmart Discount City, in Rogers, Arkansas. As of 2016, the stores operate under Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT). Walton revolutionized the industry, avoiding larger urban competition and focusing on small towns. He mastered distribution, selection and supplier contracts. His six heirs own 54% of WMT stock. The company is the largest nongovernment employer in the world, with an
estimated 2.1 million employees in 2015.
2. The House of Saud, Saudi Arabia
Estimated Net Worth: $1.4 trillion
The al-Saud family has ruled Saudi Arabia with absolute authority since the 1700s, though the modern government has been in place since 1932. As of 2016, the al-Saud family is headed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud. Not surprisingly, most of the al-Saud wealth comes from its control over Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves.
1. The Rothschild Family, Germany
Estimated Net Worth: $350 billion – $2 trillion
The Rothschild name has been associated with international banking since at least the late 1700s. Mayer Rothschild, the original patriarch, was a favored assistant and finance manager of the German royal family. He leveraged his position in court to develop a banking business for the German aristocracy. When his five sons reached adulthood, they were stationed in Frankfurt, London, Naples, Paris and Vienna to manage local banking affairs. From there, a multi-century financial empire flourished.