Listed Family Firms in Europe

Relevance, Characteristics and Performance
Stiftung Familienunternehmen
München, 2022
Associate Professor, Ph.D. Aleksandra Gregoric, Professor Dr. Marc Steffen Rapp, Associate Professor, Ph.D., Ignacio Requejo

Family businesses operate more successfully

How important are listed family businesses in Europe? What characterises them and what do they contribute? In order to shed light on these questions, this study draws on an enormous data set from 17 European countries. According to the authors, it is the largest of its kind. Specifically, they look at 6,702 listed companies in the real economy analysed between 2007 and 2020.

The results, which show that listed family companies are a significant factor on the capital market, deserve corresponding attention. In 2020, for example, they accounted for 32 per cent of all listed companies. Over the entire period, the figure fluctuated between 29 and 34 per cent.

A direct comparison with non-family-owned businesses shows that listed family-owned companies are more successful in the long term – and the greater the influence of the founding family, the better the company’s performance. At the same time, however, the study also shows that there are significant differences between European countries – both in terms of the overall share and its distribution across sectors.

It is also interesting that the authors also look at the various definitions of family businesses. On the one hand, there is the EU Commission’s definition, which defines a listed company as a family business if a person or a family holds at least 25 per cent of the decision-making rights on the basis of their share in the company capital. This definition forms the basis of the study.

For a more detailed analysis, however, they also refer to the “founding family definition”, and show the differences that arise from this. According to this definition, a company is only a family business if the family holding 25 per cent of the decision-making rights is related to one of the founders.

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