Ten brother business combos

Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images News / Getty Images
Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images News / Getty Images

Brothers don’t always get on in life, and even less so in business. That can have its drawbacks, but also its benefits. Karl and Theo Albrecht founded one of the biggest supermarket chains in the world, Aldi. But decided to go their own way and split the business, creating Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd, which created more competition. Yet, sometimes brothers do get on, at least enough to forge huge business empires. The list below, in no particular order, is example of ten brother-based businesses.

Koch brothers

Company: Koch Industries

Interesting Fact: David Koch survived a plane crash in which 21 people died

Arguably the world’s best know brother business is Koch Industries, run and owned by David and Charles Koch. Koch Industries is one of the biggest privately controlled companies in the world with annual revenues of around $115 billion. There are actually four Koch brothers, but Fred and William were bought out from the family business in the 1980s. Controversial figures for their staunch libertarian views, David and Charles have nevertheless created one of the most successful privately owned businesses anywhere.  

Ambani brothers

Companies: Reliance Industries (Mukesh); Reliance Group (Anil)

Interesting fact: Mukesh built and lives in what is reputed to be one of the most expensive houses in the world, a tower block called Antilia in Mumbai

India’s most famous brother business combination are also fierce rivals, proving that brotherly love isn’t always obtainable in business. Mukesh and Anil inherited the huge business empire started by their father Dhirubhai Ambani, but decided to split it up, with each sibling taking around half each, although Mukesh’s half still bears the same name as the founding business, Reliance Industries. The media has concentrated on the rivalry between the two brothers, which is often spilled over into the public arena. However, recent indications suggest there has been at least a partial rapprochement between the two.

White brothers

Company: Ray White

Interesting fact: Brian White, who’s in his early seventies, surfs, and is particularly fond of doing so in Indonesia

Australia’s biggest real estate group is run by two brothers – Brian and Paul White – who have split the chairman’s job. Founded in 1902, Ray White is synonymous with real estate sales throughout Australia and increasingly in other parts of the world as well. Third generation brothers Brian and Paul have been instrumental in creating the multi-billion dollar business.

Wertheimer brothers

Company: Chanel

Interesting fact: According to a New York Times article a few years back, the Wertheimer brothers live like “Old World aristocrats…that is, in quiet luxury”

Brothers Gérard Wertheimer and Alain Wertheimer run one of the world’s most famous fashion brands, Chanel. Hugely private and rarely giving interviews, the Wertheimer brothers are nevertheless an exemplary example of how siblings can get on in the world of business – both own 50% of Chanel. But their success at managing sibling rivalry might be helped by the fact that they live far away from each other – Alain in the US, and Gérard in Switzerland.

Kwok brothers

Company: Sun Hung Kai Properties

Interesting fact: Walter Kwok was kidnapped in 1997 by a gangster called “Big Spender”, and was only released after a reputed ransom of HK$600 million was paid

Walter, Raymond, Thomas Kwok are all linked to Sun Hung Kai Properties, Hong Kong’s biggest real estate developer by market capitalisation. They are among the more colourful brother combos out there. Walter, the former chief executive, chairman and eldest, appeared to have been ousted from the property company by his two younger siblings a few years back. And Thomas is currently serving a five-year jail term for “conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office”. That leaves Raymond, the youngest in charge – for now. But the real power behind the throne is often said to be their mother.

Candy Brothers

Company: Candy & Candy

Interesting fact: British property developers appear to specialize in brother combos – other notable ones include the Reubens, the Tchenguizs, and the Barclays

The UK’s best known property duo, brothers Christian and Nick Candy, are most famous for their luxury property developments, especially One Hyde Park in London – said to be the most expensive apartment block ever built. Starting from the bottom, the two brothers bought and sold London flats before moving into the big time with their various showcase developments, although some of which haven’t been quite as successful as One Hyde Park.

Rollins brothers

Company: Rollins, Inc

Interesting fact: Gary and Randall set up a trust fund for the next generation that would only payout if their kids followed “meaningful pursuits”

The Rollins brothers – Gary, 71, and Randall, 84 –  control a number of businesses worth billions, including Rollins Inc, a holding group that owns pest-control companies including one of America’s biggest, Orkin. The also own RPC, an oil and gas service company. But when its comes to passing the business down to the next generation, the two brothers seem very reluctant to engage the third generation.

Samwer brothers

Company: Rocket Internet

Interesting fact: While living in San Francisco, the brothers studied many of the companies emerging in Silicon Valley, and one actually co-authored a book entitled America’s Most Successful Startups.  

The German Samwer brothers –  Marc, Oliver and Alexander – set up various internet business, including one called Rocket Internet, which when listed back in 2014 made them billionaires. The brothers are still just in the early 40ies.

Zamil brothers

Company: Zamil Group

Interesting fact: The family has set up a business development program to assimilate the members of the second and third generation into the business

When it comes to brothers no company does it better than the Saudi Arabian Zamil Group, which has an unbelievable 12 brothers of the controlling family on its board. Apparently, the founder, Abdullah Al-Hamad Al Zamil, had 17 children.

Senger-Weiss brothers

Company: Gebrüder Weiss

Interesting fact: Gebrüder Weiss is one of the oldest, continuously running businesses in Europe, tracing its origins back to 1608

The Austrian logistics company is run, along with non-family managers, by two brothers: Wolfram and Heinz Senger-Weiss. Gebrüder Weiss, which is based in the Austrian town of Lauterach in the far west of the country near the Swiss border, markets itself as a family company, and the commitment goes deep.


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