The power of family - family dynasties dominate Forbes list

Liliane Bettencourt, left, the world's 11th wealthiest person. She is pictured with her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt Meyer   Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/WireImage / Getty Images

Liliane Bettencourt, left, the world's 11th wealthiest person. She is pictured with her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt Meyer   Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/WireImage / Getty Images

Forbes has released its annual billionaire list and yet again family businesses play a prominent role among the 1,810 billionaires on this year’s list. Out of the top 100 wealthiest people on the list just over half of their wealth can be classified as being linked to a family business.

Among the more notable dynasties were the Walton family, owners of the US supermarket group Wal-Mart. There were four members of the family in the top 100, including third generation heir Lukas Walton. David and Charles Koch made the top ten, as did Liliane Bettencourt from the L’Oreal fortune. The Mars confectionery and food dynasty was represented by Forrest and Jacqueline Mars. Stefan Quandt from the BMW motoring group made the top 100, as did Serge Dassault, from the eponymous French aviation group. Chanel money was on display with the brothers Alain and Gerard Wertheimer managing to make the top 100.

Some first generation wealth can be classified as a family business given the second generation plays a role in the business, and is likely to play an even bigger role in the future. These included Amancio Ortega, known for his Zara clothing multinational, and Warren Buffett, chairman of the investment group Berkshire Hathaway. Both billionaires have employed one of their children in the business.

The oldest business dynasty making the top 100 was represented by the Duke of Westminster. His wealth, based on big holdings of UK and US property, can be traced back to at least the early 17th century, if not earlier.

Forbes reckons that the aggregate net worth of the world’s billionaires is $6.48 trillion, $570 billion less than last year. The number of billionaires compared with last year’s list also shrunk by 16.