Germany remains European focal point for large family firms

The 2023 EY and University of St. Gallen Family Business Index shows family enterprises based in Germany produced a combined revenue of US$1.13 trillion

Germany remains home to many of the world's largest family enterprises, according to the 2023 EY and University of St. Gallen Family Business Index, producing a combined revenue of US$1.13 trillion.

The latest index, which ranks the 500 largest family businesses in the world by revenue, lists Germany as the second-largest contributor in relation to the number of companies, with 78, employing 3.35 million people.

Almost a third of the largest family businesses in EMEIA (Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa) are based in Germany. 

The Central European nation is home to the oldest European company in the index - science and technology company, Merck KGaA - while one of the German companies, retailer Schwarz Group, ranks among the top 10 largest family enterprises globally. 

Overall, more than half (50.4%) of the companies in the index are based in EMEIA, with a combined revenue of US$3.46 trillion.

This represents 43.2% of the total value of the index. Europe alone contributes US$3.05 trillion of this and in doing so, surpasses the US$3 trillion mark for the first time.

Collectively, the 500 businesses in the EY index generated US$8.02 trillion in revenue, a 10% increase on 2021. This means family enterprises have been growing at nearly twice the rate of advanced economies.

Which other nations feature heavily in the Family Business Index?

Outside of Germany, European nations to feature heavily in the index include France and Monaco (32 companies in the top 500), Italy (20), Switzerland (16), the UK (13) and the Netherlands (13).

The US tops the list in terms of the number of contributing businesses and combined revenue, with 119 and US$2.72 trillion respectively.

Almost half (47%) of new entrants to the 2023 index come from the EMEIA region, with businesses in the Americas and Asia-Pacific making up 26.5% each.

Professor Dr. Thomas Zellweger, Chair in Family Business at the University of St.Gallen, said: "The Index composition is stable, with only 7% of new entrants this year.

"What is striking is the growing prominence of Asia and the economic power these family firms wield."


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