These are The World's Top 50 Family Business

Monday, 18th April 2011

 

In a major new survey, Campden FB has compiled a list of the top 50 family business leaders in the world. All of us at FINH enjoyed reading this and were intrigued by the similar themes shared by many family businesses, regardless of size. We hope you enjoy reading it also - David Harland, Managing Director of FINH

This list is for 2011 to view the 2012 of the Worlds Top 50 Family Businesses list click here

With the aid of four senior family experts from the world's leading business schools ( Randal Carlock from INSEAD; Joachim Schwass from IMD; Kavil Ramachandran from Indian School of Business; and John Ward from Kellogg School of Management )  Campden has sifted through loads of data to compile the final list. The top five places went to John Elkann, Azim Premji, Güler Sabanci, Guido Barilla and Ratan Tata.

Eleven names on the list were from the US – including such business luminaries as Bob Gore of Gore-Tex fame and William Lauder, chairman of Estee Lauder. Germany and Italy each had six representatives, and two Italians – John Elkann and Guido Barilla – made the top ten, testament to the lasting appeal of family businesses in the otherwise struggling Italian economy.

Indian family business leaders were the best represented from the emerging markets, with five names, including two – Azim Premji and Ratan Tata – making the top ten. Brazilian family business leaders were also well represented on the list, with three names. Indicative of how many family businesses are dominated by males, there were only seven women on the list – but three of them helped to make up the top ten.

There were a striking number of family business leaders in the retail/supermarket sector, indicating how this part of the corporate world is still extremely popular with family businesses. Although the individuals on the list are dominant players in the world of family businesses, their business acumen and adherence to good corporate governance practices would make them worthy finalists on any top business leaders' survey.

1. John Elkann
Age: 34
Nationality: American/Italian
Company: Fiat
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €50.1 billion (2009)

"It was a gradual process of being tested and wanting to be tested…"

The successor to one of the greatest family business dynasties in Europe, John Elkann has certainly made an impact since he joined Fiat full-time during a particularly difficult period in the company's history in the early part of the last decade. Working with non-family managers – he was jointly responsible for bringing in management guru Sergio Marchionne – Elkann has helped to turn the company around. He showed an impressive interest in the company at an early age, learning from his legendary grandfather Gianni Agnelli and working anonymously at Fiat factories. Elkann avoided the pitfalls of the fame and fortune he was born into and has shown a steely determination to make Fiat not just a credible carmaker, but one of the biggest. He has also moved to consolidate the family stake in Fiat. There are other names on this list that could have taken top spot, but no other family business leader looks like being such a visionary – particularly given the amount of baggage Elkann inherited. He is a worthy winner.

2. Azim Premji

Age: 65
Nationality: Indian
Company: Wipro
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €4.4 billion (2009/10)

"The early years were more about learning than about acting. I had to carry on my father's work, which was a big challenge."

From a $2 million hydrogenated cooking fat company to a $5 billion information technology services provider, Premji has played a crucial role in revamping Wipro and making it one of India's most successful companies. His entrepreneurial skills are legendary in India, having taken over the running of the family business at 21 after the sudden death of his father and Wipro founder, HM Premji. Premji pushed the company towards expansion and diversification, starting with manufacturing light bulbs and going on to enter the IT sector – now a major source of revenue for the company, contributing almost $4.5 billion in 2010. He is also a big philanthropist, pledging to give $2 billion to improving education in India. Looks to be grooming Harvard-educated son Rishad as successor, but he will have to prove his management mettle before given the nod.

3. Güler Sabanci
Age: 55
Nationality: Turkish
Company: Sabanci Holding
Position: Chairwoman and managing director
Revenues: €8.9 billion (2009)

"Being a family firm helps us have a long-term strategy…"

Universally recognised as one of the top businesswomen of her generation, Sabanci attributes much of her success to the business acumen learnt from her grandfather and founder of the company, along with her uncle Sakip, with whom she developed a close relationship after the death of her father. She has worked in the family firm since 1978, including stints at subsidiaries KordSA and LasSA. She was elevated to chairwoman after the death of her uncle in 2004 and has since grown revenues by a third. The emphasis on good corporate governance and sustainability has been reinforced by her efforts and the Sabanci Foundation is one of the biggest charitable foundations in the world. Her influence extends beyond the family business and Sabanci is often courted by local and international politicians for her views on the big issues of the day. She is a huge role model for family businesses, especially for women within them.

4. Guido Barilla
Age: 52
Nationality: Italian
Company: Barilla Group
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €4.2 billion (2009)

"It has taken us 10 years to build ourselves up to become the leaders in the US pasta market. Would financial shareholders have waited that long for results?"

The "Pasta King" Barilla took over the running of the family business in 1992 and has been instrumental in building the company into the biggest pasta producer in the world. Now chairman, Barilla transformed the Parma-based firm that traces its origins back to the 1870s with some impressive acquisitions, including German baker Kamps for more than $2 billion and Harry's in France. He also built the firm's business in the US from scratch, which is now one of Barilla's biggest markets. Barilla has also done much in the area of corporate governance, which helped the pasta maker to be voted by the Reputation Institute as the 19th most reputable company in the world last year and number one in the food sector and in Italy. Barilla is a worthy top 10 finalist.

5. Ratan Tata
Age: 73
Nationality: Indian
Company: Tata Group
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €49.5 billion (2009/10)

"At Tata, we believe that if we are not among the top three in an industry, we should look seriously at what it would take to become one of the top three players... or think about exiting the industry."

Chairman of India's largest privately-owned conglomerate, Tata has played a pivotal role in making the firm the huge and influential multinational it is today. Joining the family firm nearly 50 years ago, Tata gradually worked his way up to oversee the entire empire by the early 1990s. A consummate dealmaker, he once made 14 acquisitions in the space of just two years, and has also done a lot to internationalise the business. The acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover meant his firm became the largest employer of manufacturing jobs in the UK. Tata told the world last year that he plans to announce a successor by 2012 – and said it doesn't have to be a family member, or even an Indian.

6. Jürgen Heraeus
Age: 74
Nationality: German
Company: Heraeus Holding
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €16.1 billion (2009)

"Family-owned companies are once again in the public eye, as is the role of the entrepreneur as a committed worker for tackling society's challenges."

Heraeus took over managing the family firm in 1983 after holding various positions in the business and went on to transform the fortunes of the precious metals trading and technology firm by taking it global – Heraeus entered China long before many of its competitors – and bringing in professional managers, as well as decentralising decision making. Revenues have risen by more than €15 billion under his management. He kept the company rooted to its home base in Hanau, Germany, where he plays an active role in the community. It's likely he will pass leadership to a non-family member, but he has instilled a corporate ethos that is the envy of many companies. Heraeus sets an example to business leaders everywhere.

7. William Lauder
Age: 50
Nationality: American
Company: Estée Lauder
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €5.7 billion (2009/10)

"The biggest issue I have is there's some public perception out there, misperception out there, that somehow a family-owned business is not aligned with outside shareholders."

Lauder stepped down as chief executive in 2009, two years after announcing a succession plan that saw non-family executive Fabrizio Freda move up the management ladder and eventually become chief executive. Lauder became chairman, but the succession plan was considered inspirational and symptomatic of a family business that has always placed good governance at the heart of what it does. Working outside of the family business before joining in 1986, Lauder made his way up to first chief operating officer and then chief executive in 2004. He's been cited as saying that he'd like a family member to run the business again but says all appointments should be on merit, not family connections.

8. Marie-Christine Coisne-Roquette
Age: 53
Nationality: French
Company: Sonepar
Position: Chairwoman and chief executive
Revenues: €11.9 billion (2009)

"If a business can learn from its errors and difficulties, then it grows…"

Coisne-Roquette has chaired the 100% family-owned electric equipment maker since 1998, taking over from her father and founder Henri Coisne and has helped take the company to a €12 billion multinational. She underpinned efforts to enter into emerging markets, particularly Asia and Latin America. Coisne-Roquette proved she had the mettle to make transformational decisions when Sonepar acquired a chunk of distribution group Hagemyer in 2008. She has underpinned success at Sonepar by ensuring an adherence to strict corporate governance rules, meaning family shareholders take an active role in the company. She is also a vocal exponent of fair taxes for businesses and heads up the tax committee of the French Federation of Companies.

9. Juan Roig
Age: 61
Nationality: Spanish
Company: Mercadona
Position: Chief executive
Revenues: €15.5 billion (2009)

"My daughters have the same opportunities as Mercadona's 61,000 employees to run the business – because property is inherited, not a job."

Roig has turned a small regional supermarket chain started by his father into one of the biggest supermarket chains in Spain with annual revenues of more than €15 billion. Taking over the running of the business in the early 1980s, Roig's other claim to fame was implementing a management system called Total Quality Management - that dealt with the whole chain of relationships found in a retailer like Mercadona. This included relations with customers, workers, suppliers and management. Roig's decision to use TQM is considered visionary - the Mercadona experience is often taught at business schools as an example of an exemplary corporate structure.

10. Dominique Hériard Dubreuil
Age: 63
Nationality: French
Company: Rémy Cointreau
Position: Chairwoman
Revenues: €807.8 million (2009/10)

"Taste is at the heart of everything we do..."

Hériard Dubreuil took over as chairwoman from her father in 1998 and went about turning the heavily indebted family business – maker of Remy Martin and Piper-Heidsieck champagne – into a highly successful multinational drinks company. Her achievements prove how family businesses can be revitalised with a new family member at the helm. The former public relations executive was a surprise choice to succeed her father (one of her brothers was considered the most likely to take control) but she has proven herself more than up to the task of leading a company in a sector traditionally dominated by male bosses. As chairwoman, Hériard Dubreuil has left more of the day-to-day running of the company to chief executive Jean-Marie Laborde.

The next 40 in alphabetical order:

Simone Bagel-Trah
Age: 42
Nationality: German
Company: Henkel AG
Position: Chairwoman
Revenues: €13.5 billion (2009)

Bagel-Trah took over the chairmanship of the consumer goods company that produces household names like Persil, Schwarzkopf and Loctite in September 2009 to great fanfare in Germany as she was the first woman to chair a top German company. Great-great granddaughter of the company founder, Bagel-Trah is the fifth generation of the Henkel family to oversee the running of the familycontrolled business. Taking over from the much-respected Albrecht Woeste, Bagel-Trah had much to live up to, but her background suggests she's more than up to the task – she has a PhD in microbiology and helped set up a successful biotech company before joining Henkel.

Patrizio Bertelli
Age: 64
Nationality: Italian
Company: Prada
Position: Chief executive
Revenues: €1.8 billion (2009)

Bertelli is the business brains behind a husband and wife team that have created one of the world's most iconic fashion labels, Prada. The Milan-based fashion house is run very much as a family business – Bertelli, his wife Miuccia Prada and siblings own 95% of the business – and the Tuscan-born chief executive has successfully managed to balance the business side of Prada with the design side, crucial for the success of a global fashion house.

Jonas Bonnier
Age: 47
Nationality: Swedish
Company: Bonnier
Position: Chief executive
Revenues: €3.2 billion (2009)

Few family businesses score higher in the all-important area of succession planning than the Swedish publisher Bonnier, which is now in its sixth generation of family management. Such is the success of the family business that it is difficult to pick one family member for this survey, but Jonas Bonnier is ensuring the family tradition is being maintained as chief executive – and the next generation of Bonniers are working in the business, ensuring Bonnier will be replaced by a family member.

Martin Bouygues
Age: 57
Nationality: French
Company: Bouygues
Position: Chairman and chief executive
Revenues: €31.3 billion (2009)

Bouygues took over management of Bouygues in 1989 from his father and founder of the business, Francis. There is no doubting his management ability, which has helped build the French construction and communications company into one of France's biggest companies. Under his stewardship, Bouygues has addressed issues around governance and corporate responsibility well – but some doubt the Bouygues family will remain in charge, as so far there is little sign of a family successor and family ownership looks likely to be further diluted as the firm grows.

James Cox Kennedy
Age: 62
Nationality: American
Company: Cox Enterprises
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €10.7 billion (2009)

James Cox Kennedy chairs the media group founded by his grandfather James Cox, but worked in many junior positions before taking the top spot, including reporter and ad salesman in the newspaper subsidiary. He became chairman and chief executive in 1988 and was credited with building the Cox empire into a huge media business with revenues of almost $15 billion. Cox Kennedy has also been at the heart of instilling corporate best practices at the Sandy Springs, Georgia-based company.

Marco Drago
Age: 64
Nationality: Italian
Company: De Agostini Group
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €4.1 billion (2009)

Chairman since 1997, Drago has taken the family-owned conglomerate – which spans publishing to finance – to new heights, expanding abroad through acquisitions and diversifying income streams. He worked in various parts of the extensive De Agostini empire before taking the top job. Drago also heads up the family group that controls De Agostini, but unlike many of his fellow Italian family business leaders, has kept a very low profile.

Carl Elsener
Age: 52
Nationality: Swiss
Company: Victorinox
Position: Chief executive and chairman
Revenues: €372.1 million (2008)

Elsener is the great-grandson of the creator of arguably the world's most famous knife – the Swiss Army penknife. Along with his father, who still works in the company, he has shown considerable dexterity in running the 126-year-old Victorinox, including driving the company out of a difficult period after it was hit hard by stricter air security measures introduced after 9/11. Through diversification of the product range, Elsener has reversed a big fall in revenues. The company has a reputation as a leading place to work in Switzerland, which harks back to the founder's ethics, who set up the company to provide employment to local works when many were emigrating because of a lack of job opportunities.

Annemiek Fentener van Vlissingen
Age: 48
Nationality: Dutch
Company: SHV Holdings
Position: Chairwoman
Revenues: €11.9 billion (2009)

The hugely private Fentener van Vlissingen – there are very few photographs of her and she never gives interviews – cemented her place in the corporate world last year by being voted Holland's top business woman. Fentener van Vlissingen would no doubt put some of this success down to good family business governance at SHV that ensures no member of the family comes into the business until they work elsewhere. She worked in the US and became a management consultant before joining the family business.

Ferruccio Ferragamo
Age: 64
Nationality: Italian
Company: Salvatore Ferragamo
Position: President
Revenues: N/A

Ferragamo is president of the legendary Italian fashion house and family controlled Salvatore Ferragamo. Working closely with his mother Wanda, Ferragamo has ensured the business has continued to prosper since the death of its founder Salvatore. Only three members of the family are allowed to work at the fashion house at any one time (although others work in different parts of the Ferragamo empire) and Ferragamo has brought in a number of non-family managers to help with the running of the business. Son James is viewed as heir apparent and is currently a senior manager.

Wolfram Freudenberg
Age: 69
Company: Freudenberg
Nationality: German
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €4.2 billion (2009)

Appointed chairman to the board of partners of the family-controlled diversified manufacturing firm in 2005, fifth-generation Freudenberg has ensured the strong principals of the company continue to be at the heart of the business. Freudenberg gets the nod largely because of the collective efforts of the Freudenberg family to adhere to exemplary corporate practices for more than 100 years, which is vital to the continued success of multigenerational family businesses.

Joseph Gallo
Age: 70
Nationality: American
Company: EJ Gallo Winery
Position: Chief executive
Revenues: €2.2 billion (2009 estimate)

Gallo, the son of Ernest Gallo, who along with his brother Julio founded the wine business, is the second-generation member of the family to run the business, taking over after the death of his brother in 1997. EJ Gallo is one of the biggest family-controlled drinks businesses in the world. Under his tenure, Gallo has doubled revenues and taken the 100% family-owned winery more up-market. There are at least 16 members of the Gallo family working in the business; third generation Matt and Gina are likely to step into controlling positions in the near future.

Jorge Gerdau Johannpeter
Age: 74
Nationality: Brazilian
Company: Gerdau
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €11.6 billion (2009)

Great-grandson of the founder of one of Latin America's biggest steel makers, Gerdau Johannpeter must take credit for building the business over the last four decades. He has worked in the family-owned firm under his father's tutelage since the 1970s, becoming chief executive in the early 1980s and has made some transforming acquisitions including Ameristeel in 1999. Gerdau Johannpeter has since shifted to the chairman's role, making way for his son André Bier to take up the position of chief executive.

Adi Godrej
Age: 68
Nationality: Indian
Company: Godrej Group
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €1.9 billion (2010)

Godrej, chairman of one of India's biggest consumer and industrial products companies, came back to the family firm armed with an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and subsequently went on to completely transform the company. Godrej has brought in talent from outside of the family, which he says has helped to drive profitability and revenues and also made it a prerequisite for all family members working at the firm to have professional qualifications on par with non-family executives. He has played an essential role in making the Godrej brands an integral part of the second most populous country in the world.

Bob Gore
Age: 73
Nationality: American
Company: WL Gore
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €1.8 billion (2009)

Scientist and businessman Gore must rank as one of the most innovative family business leaders, having invented the famous GORE-TEX® fabric and along with his father developed 'Gore Culture' – an employment culture characterised by, among other things, a flat hierarchical structure. The corporate culture at the family business has been so popular with employees that it consistently tops best companies to work for surveys.

Karl-Erivan Haub
Age: 50
Nationality: German/American
Company: Tengelmann
Position: Chief executive
Revenues: €11.3 billion (2009)

Haub took over the running of the vast retail conglomerate from his father in 2000 and has built on his legacy by implementing a major reorganisation of the company. Fifth generation of the family, Haub gained experience outside of the firm at McKinsey. He is known to have clashed with his father on strategy before he got the top job, but ultimately the succession handled well. The avid marathon runner may face his biggest challenge ahead with the need to sort out the struggling US business.

Nick Hayek
Age: 56
Nationality: Swiss
Company: Swatch Group
Position: Chief executive
Revenues: €3.9 billion (2009)

Having joined the company (founded by his father) in 1994, Hayek became chief executive in 2003. He managed to establish his own credentials despite being the son of one of the world's greatest businessmen who died only last year. Hayek became chief executive in 2003 and has moved to diversify Swatch's product range and markets. Swatch is already nurturing the third generation with nephew Marc installed as chief executive of Swatch luxury watch brand, Blancpain.

Jon Huntsman
Age: 73
Nationality: American
Company: Huntsman Corporation
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €5.9 billion (2009 estimate)

Jon Huntsman Sr ranks as one of America's greatest entrepreneurs and philanthropists – he also scores high on running a family business. He has shown considerable business acumen in reviving Huntsman's fortunes to the extent that it is now one of the biggest chemical companies in the world. He stepped down from the chief executive role in 2000 to pass it on to his second eldest son, Peter. He's pledged to give all his fortune away when he dies, on top of $1 billion-plus he has already given.

Harold McGraw III
Age: 61
Nationality: American
Company: McGraw Hill
Position: Chairman and chief executive
Revenues: €4.3 billion (2009)

When families control publishing companies they often go back a fair few generations and McGraw Hill is no exception. McGraw III is the fourth-generation of the founding family to work in the 121-year-old business and the sixth family president. He's been responsible for widespread innovation at the New York-based publisher, diversifying the business and he was not afraid to sell iconic brands like Business Week. Fifth generation family members work in the business, which is likely to mean the family retains control for years to come.

Kumar Mangalam Birla
Age: 43
Nationality: Indian
Company: Aditya Birla Group
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €21.3 billion (2009)

Mangalam Birla has been at the forefront of expanding the business started by his great-great-great-grandfather in 1857. He became active in the business 30 years ago after obtaining an MBA from London Business School. Mangalam Birla helped ensure the family controlled conglomerate grew rapidly through acquisitions, aided no doubt by the incredible pace of economic growth being notched up in his country. Revenues have grown 15-fold under his stewardship.

Emma Marcegaglia
Age: 45
Nationality: Italian
Company: Marcegaglia
Position: Chief executive
Revenues: €3.6 billion (2010)

The "steel lady" as she is affectionately known by her fellow Italians, Marcegaglia took over from her father as chief executive of the steel processing company he founded in 1959. She combines running the 100% family-owned business with her brother which she has successfully managed growing revenues and profits, and also heads the Italian business lobby group Confindustria.

Bill Marriott
Age: 78
Nationality: American
Company: Marriott International
Position: Chairman and chief executive
Revenues: €8.1billion (2009)

Marriott built on the family-owned hotel group after his father died in 1985 – the firm now has revenues of more than €8 billion. He brought in non-family manager Arne Sorenson to eventually pass on the management of the business, but no timetable has been publicly agreed. Marriott would like a family member to reach the top again – eldest son John Marriott III is vice chairman. Marriott rode out the credit crisis better than many of its competitors with analysts crediting Marriott's management as a big factor.

Hank Meijer
Age: 58
Nationality: American
Company: Meijer
Position: Chief executive and co-chairman
Revenues: €10.5 billion (2009 estimate)

Former journalist Meijer took over the running of the mid-west American familyowned supermarket chain that competes directly with Wal-Mart in 2002. He has reorganised store-level management at the firm started by his grandfather during the Great Depression. The strong community principals handed down through the family have been reiterated by Meijer as he has renewed the focus on programmes benefiting the communities the chain serves.

Vianney Mulliez
Age: 48
Nationality: French
Company: Auchan Group
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €39.9 billion (2009)

Second-generation Mulliez took over leadership of the French mass retailer in 2006 from his uncle and founder of the company Gérard Mulliez. He moved to further internationalise the company including entering a number of emerging markets. Mulliez was appointed in preference to Gérard's son. Ownership and management of the business is strictly monitored by the Mulliez family through L'Association Familiale Mulliez. He fostered good employee relations; employees own around 12% of the company.

Marcelo Bahia Odebrecht
Age: 41
Nationality: Brazilian
Company: Odebrecht
Position: Chief executive
Revenues: €16.9 billion (2009)

Chief executive of one of Latin America's most successful family businesses, Odebrecht has been instrumental in underpinning the company's success, which has seen revenues rise to more than $23 billion at the construction, engineering and petrochemicals conglomerate from less than $5 billion nine years ago. Having run the construction arm before being given the top position in 2008, Odebrecht is the grandson of founder Norberto.

August Oetker
Age: 66
Nationality: German
Company: Oetker Group
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €7.9 billion (2009)

Oetker took over the running of the food and drinks company Dr Oetker (part of the Oetker Group) from his father in the early 1980s and went about reorganising it as well as growing the business through acquisitions and exporting the brand abroad. Known for his early commitment to good environmental practices, Dr Oetker was one of the first companies in Europe to employ an environmental manager. Fourth generation Oetker has said he doesn't mind if a fifth-generation family member isn't found to lead the company - what matters, he says, is sustaining good management.

Karl-Johan Persson
Age: 35
Nationality: Swedish
Company: Hennes & Mauritz
Position: Chief executive
Revenues: €12.3 billion (2010)

Persson makes the list not least because of the exemplary succession planning followed by the family since the founding of the business more than 60 years ago. This has meant that the family principal has stepped down and passed it on to the younger generation before the issue of succession becomes a problem for the company. But it is not just about good succession planning. Taking over from his father in the chief executive position at a difficult period for retailers worldwide in mid-2009, Persson is already beginning to show business acumen and verve. H&M managed to increase revenues and open a host of new stores in 2009.

Francois-Henri Pinault
Age: 48
Nationality: French
Company: PPR
Position: Chief executive and chairman
Revenues: €16.5 billion (2009)

Chairman and chief executive since 2005, Pinault took over the luxury goods and retail business from his father and founder of the company. He orchestrated a number of transforming acquisitions including the purchase of the sporting goods maker Puma in 2007 and hasn't been scared to sell off businesses in order to streamline the family-controlled empire. He made his mark on the firm by replacing many of the managers appointed by his father and bringing in non-family executives.

Brian Roberts
Age: 51
Nationality: American
Company: Comcast
Position: Chairman and chief executive
Revenues: €26.3 billion (2009)

Roberts took over the running of the family business in 1990 after his father Ralph stepped down from the chief executive role. He hasn't looked back since, creating America's biggest cable operator and home internet service provider with a series of bold acquisitions that have earned him a reputation for being one of best dealmakers of his generation. Still only 51, Roberts looks certain to remain at the forefront of the corporate scene for years to come.

Ferit Şahenk
Age: 47
Nationality: Turkish
Company: Doğuş Holding
Position: Chairman
Revenues: N/A

Thrust into the spotlight at the age of just 36 after his father and founder of the Turkish conglomerate Doğuş Holding died, Şahenk took on the chairmanship after working in the group's bank and then the holding company. He has continued to grow the business, as well as developing a corporate responsibility agenda.

Nobutada Saji
Age: 65
Nationality: Japanese
Company: Suntory
Position: Chief executive
Revenues: €293.8 million (2009)

Saji took over as chief executive of iconic Japanese drinks company Suntory in 2001 after his father's death and went about making some big acquisitions including Orangina Schweppes in 2009. He is the third generation of the Saji clan to run the Tokyo-based firm. A fitness fanatic, last year Saji made his most audacious corporate move yet when he attempted to merge with rival Kirin. But the dilution of family ownership – the family owns just under 90% of Suntory – under the proposed merger was a stumbling block. Succession might be an issue since Saji has no children.

Abílio dos Santos Diniz
Age: 74
Nationality: Brazilian
Company: Companhia Brasileira de Distribuição
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €18.4 billion (2010)

The dashing Diniz is one of Latin America's shrewdest and best-known businessmen, overseeing a business empire with revenues of more than $24 billion. Diniz has notched up a colourful career, having been kidnapped, worked as a racing car driver and put together one of the biggest deals in Brazilian corporate history when he sold half of the family supermarket business to French group Casino. Son and ex-Formula 1 driver Pedro Paulo sits on the board of the family business and might be being groomed for the top position.

Naguib Onsi Sawiris
Age: 56
Nationality: Egyptian
Company: Orascom Telecom Holding
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €3.7 billion (2009)

Sawiris may have quickly left Egypt as his country was experiencing widespread political upheaval, but one of the Middle East's best-known businessmen is unlikely to be daunted by the problems at home. Since working in the family business started by his father, Sawiris has hugely diversified the business, ensuring that it is the largest private sector employer in Egypt – one big reason why he will be wanted back once the political turmoil subsides. The huge family clan will continue to run the company for years, but replacing the entrepreneurial and deal-making skills of Sawiris will be difficult.

Alfred Schindler
Age: 61
Nationality: Swiss
Company: Schindler
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €9.7 billion (2009)

Schindler worked at the largest manufacturer of escalators in the world since
1977 and became chief executive in 1985. Although joining family firm in his mid-twenties, Schindler had already achieved business success outside the firm. However, he has excelled at Schindler by internationalising the company through acquisitions and rapidly increasing revenues. He is due to stand down from the chairman role this year and insiders say a non-family member is likely to take over the chairmanship.

Daniel Servitje Montull
Age: 51
Nationality: Mexican
Company: Grupo Bimbo
Position: Chief executive
Revenues: €6.5 billion (2009)

As chief executive, Montull has propelled Bimbo onto the international stage, making a number of impressive acquisitions, including Weston Foods and the bakery business of Sara Lee. These acquisitions have made Bimbo one of the largest food companies in the world. Still only 51 and equipped with an MBA from Stanford, Montull is certainly one of the Americas' most adroit businessmen and could yet propel Bimbo past the likes of Unilever, Kraft and Nestle to become the world's largest food manufacturer. The Servitje family still controls around 40% of the business.

Ajay Shriram
Age: 56
Nationality: Indian
Company: DCM Shriram Consolidated
Position: Chairman and managing director
Revenues: €580 million (2010)

Since being elevated to the chairmanship of the family-controlled conglomerate 10 years ago, Shriram has helped to grow the business rapidly with his two brothers, Vikram and Ajit. He says working in the company's factories at an early age underpinned current success. Shriram gets the credit for building the sugar business and increasing profitability across all parts of DCM Shriram. The family has employed a behavioural specialist to deal with issues around family governance and succession planning.

Alexandre Soares dos Santos
Age: 75
Nationality: Portuguese
Company: Jerónimo Martins
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €7.3 billion (2009)

Having taken over one of the oldest business in our survey at the tender age of 33 after the death of his father, Soares dos Santos grew the company from a small retailer into one of the biggest companies in Portugal. He has since passed the reins to son Pedro. The family control around 60% of the food distributor and consumer products manufacturer.

Ofra Strauss
Age: 51
Nationality: Israeli
Company: The Strauss Group
Position: Chairperson
Revenues: €1.2 billion (2009)

Third generation Strauss took over the running of the eponymous food company from her father more than 10 years ago and has been responsible for further internationalising the business. She has also made some impressive contacts on the way, including Indra Nooyi (chairman and chief executive of PepsiCo) with which the company works in the US. Strauss says her success can be partly attributed to the strong family culture. The fourth generation are gradually being nurtured to take senior positions at the business.

Andrew Taylor
Age: 62
Nationality: American
Company: Enterprise Holdings
Position: Chairman and chief executive
Revenues: €9.2 billion (2010)

Starting at the bottom, washing cars at the company his father Jack founded in 1957, Taylor has gone on to create one of the most successful car rental companies in the world. He was promoted to chief executive in the early 1990s and then through a series of acquisitions and overseas expansion, turned Enterprise into the largest car rental group in America in terms of revenue. He took on the role of chairman as well as chief executive in 2001.

David Thomson
Age: 53
Nationality: Canadian
Company: Thomson Reuters
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €9.5 billion (2009)

Scion of arguably Canada's most famous business family, Thomson has had a lot to live up to. The deal to merge with Reuters in 2007 has helped to underpin his reputation as a businessman and ensured the Thomson family legacy will last for years. Hugely private, Thomson hardly ever gives interviews and the few times he has spoken publicly he has talked about the importance of getting the work/life balance right.

Robson Walton
Age: 65
Nationality: American
Company: Walmart
Position: Chairman
Revenues: €300 billion (2009)

Chairman of Walmart since 1992 (two days after the death of his father), Walton has been the primary link between the family and the world's largest retailer. He helped to internationalise the business through a series of acquisitions – including Asda in the UK and Bompreço in Brazil - but now is under pressure to find a successor, who shows no signs of being anointed (at least publicly).

Methodology/Judging

Campden FB drew up a long list of more than 200 family business leaders across the globe on the basis of these three criteria:
• The candidate showed exceptional adherence to good corporate governance and succession planning.
• The candidate showed outstanding entrepreneurial talent in the context of the family business
• The candidate has been crucial to the successful running of the business in the last five years and helped to underpin its profitability. The long list was then judged, using the criteria above, by four leading business school professors to draw up the final group and decide the top 10 leaders.
• The judges were Randel Carlock, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise at INSEAD; Kavil Ramachandran, Professor of Family Business and Wealth Management at the Indian School of Business; Joachim Schwass, Professor of Family Business at IMD and John Ward, Professor of Family Enterprise at Kellogg School of Management.

Top 10 names: Please note that the quotes used in the top 10 entries were taken from various sources including the Financial Times.

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