Listed family businesses are more successful

Study of 17 countries shows founding families exert a crucial influence

20 July 2022, Munich. Publicly traded family businesses in Europe do business with a longer-term perspective and more successfully than companies that are not family businesses – and the greater the influence of the founding family, the better their performance. This is the conclusion reached by the study “Listed family firms in Europe” commissioned by the Foundation for Family Businesses and authored by an international research team directed by Dr Marc Steffen Rapp, Professor of Economics at the Marburg Centre for Institutional Economics of the Philipps-Universität Marburg.

Higher job growth

Listed family businesses recorded higher employment growth in the period under review. They also charted comparatively higher value creation per capita and were more profitable than firms that are not family businesses, as measured by the key indicators “return on assets” and “return on equity”. From the perspective of the capital market, it is also interesting that when it comes to total return (capital gains plus dividend yield), family businesses do considerably better at an average 7.0 per cent than non-family businesses with 5.6 per cent.

“Family companies focus on a long-term, solid approach when doing business. They think in generations, not quarters. This makes them a counter-model to large corporations with widely spread shareholdings, which are frequently concerned most of all with meeting investors’ short-term expectations”, notes Professor Rainer Kirchdörfer, Executive Board member of the Foundation for Family Businesses.

Entrepreneurial spirit drives business success

Dr Simone Bagel-Trah, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board and the Shareholders' Committee of Henkel, explains the comparatively good performance of listed family firms this way: “A significant driver in economic success is entrepreneurial spirit, which is often deeply rooted in family companies in particular. In this context, listed family companies can bring together the best of two worlds – increased transparency and comparability with competitors combined with a long-term perspective and a corporate culture characterised by family values. As an anchor shareholder, a family has a special interest in the company being successful over the long term and staying competitive.”

At 32 per cent of all companies worldwide, listed family businesses make up a substantial part of the capital market. They even amount to more than 40 per cent of companies in France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Portugal. By contrast, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands and Great Britain have comparatively few family firms among their publicly traded companies.

A key factor on the capital markets

Among family firms, those companies rate especially positively whose family founders continue to exert a crucial influence on the business. They make up more than 60 per cent of listed family firms, and 20 per cent of all the listed companies in the countries examined. These founding family businesses grow faster in terms of turnover and employment. They are also more profitable than other companies. On average, they generate an annual total return of 7.6 per cent – compared to 6.3 per cent for family businesses without a connection to a founder.

For the study, the researchers looked at listed firms in the real economy from 17 European countries (15 EU members plus Norway and Switzerland) during the period 2007 to 2020. Their sample comprised a total of 6,702 companies and included 53,484 individual yearly results. It is thus the largest study of its kind.

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Grafiken zur Studie

  • Grafik: Vergleich Beschäftigungswachstum von 2007 -2020
    Vergleich Beschäftigungswachstum von 2007 - 2020 bei Familienunternehmen und Nicht-Familienunternehmen © Stiftung Familienunternehmen
  • Grafik: Listed Family Firms in Europe _ Vergleich der Börsenperformance
    Vergleich Börsen-Performance von Familienunternehmen und Nicht-Familienunternehmen © Stiftung Familienunternehmen

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