Feuding Rothschilds? - here’s a guide to the various sides of the family

The media has been reporting for sometime that a feud has broken out between two prominent sides of the Rothschild financial dynasty. According to reports, Benjamin de Rothschild, who runs the Franco-Swiss financial group Edmond de Rothschild, is upset with family members behind the UK-based Rothschild Group, which includes its chairman David de Rothschild. Benjamin and his bank aren’t too pleased with the move by the family that controls the Rothschild Group to change the name of its holding company to Rothschild & Co from Paris Orleans.

It would appear from Benjamin’s perspective that the move is a step too far in using the Rothschild brand. The wrangle between the two sides of the family is likely to rumble along in the courts for some time yet. But one wonders whether the feud isn’t some smart wheeze by the family for a bigger gain - after all, Edmond de Rothschild owns nearly 8% of Rothschild & Co, and Benjamin stands to benefit from the name change.

Whatever is behind the feud, here’s a quick guide to the most prominent parts of the Rothschild financial dynasty in the 21st century.

David de Rothschild and the Rothschild Group

It’s difficult to say that any member of the extended Rothschild family represents the grand patriarch, given the exceptional role played by so many members and branches of the family since the financial dynasty began in the 18th century, but David de Rothschild is certainly one of the senior members of the family today.

Chairman of the Rothschild Group, David de Rothschild brought together the French and British sides of the two centuries old banking dynasty under the Paris Orleans holding company, now called Rothschild & Co, around three years ago. And the business in which he is ultimate master of is ticking along very nicely. In its last fiscal year the Rothschild Group had revenues of more than €1.4 billion. Alexander de Rothschild, David’s only son, who works for the group, looks to be the heir apparent of this side of the financial dynasty.

Benjamin de Rothschild and Edmond de Rothschild

Benjamin de Rothschild is the young(ish) - he’s 52 - pretender to be the top Rothschild. Chairman of Edmond de Rothschild, he’s managed to make the business founded by his father in 1953 into one of Europe’s most successful asset managers. Edmond de Rothschild had revenues close to €1 billion in 2013 and assets under management are close to €140 billion. So, in terms of size when it comes to revenues and employees it’s not too far from the Rothschild Group.

In 2013, Edmond de Rothschild launched a corporate finance unit in London - an area the Rothschild Group has been dominant in for some time. Some saw the move as an attempt by Benjamin to muscle in on the Rothschild Group’s premier business, despite denials from Edmond de Rothschild at the time. Another important person in Benjamin’s side of the family is his wife, Ariane. She sits on the board of Edmond de Rothschild and is involved in many of the non-financial parts of Benjamin’s business interests, which include hotels and vineyards.

Jacob Rothschild and RIT

Anyone who writes about the Rothschilds will be struck by the extraordinary entrepreneurship of the family over so many years - it's what has created arguably the most successful family dynasty of all time. Jacob Rothschild is a good example of this ability for family members to reinvent themselves hugely successfully.

After leaving NM Rothschild, now the Rothschild Group, he set RIT Capital Partners, effectively an investment holding company. Blessed with the Rothschild midas touch, RIT has become one of the most successful investment holding groups in the UK and has delivered stellar returns since it was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1988. Nathaniel (Nat) Rothschild is Jacob’s only son - is another well known Rothschild. He’s been involved with varying degrees of success in a number of financial-related businesses including a hedge fund and a natural resource group.

Evelyn and Lynn Forester de Rothschild, and E.L. Rothschild

Evelyn de Rothschild worked for various parts of the Rothschild empire until he founded in 2003 with his third wife Lynn Forester, an investment holding company called E.L. Rothschild. Among its holdings is a sizeable chunk in The Economist Group, publishers of the well-known weekly magazine. Lynn Forester is increasingly gaining a reputation for the work she has done with the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, which, according to its website, wants to “restore capitalism as an engine of broadly shared prosperity”.