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Ownership structure of the 250 largest listed companies in Germany

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Although it is often stated that family businesses are the prevalent form of business in most economies, they are mostly treated equivalent with small and medium sized businesses. Apart from the still unsolved family business definition problem this is the reason why there is so little grounded research and science of family businesses in Germany. This study shows that even in the group in which no one would assume a high family influence, namely the 250 largest listed companies in Germany, there is a strong influence of individuals and families. This study follows the design of the French study of Blondel, Rowell and Van der Heyden (2002) to ensure comparability of French and German results. After a short review of French and German family business research, the French study of Blondel et al. is summarised. While definitions and measures of family influence in this study are the same as in the French study, some specificities of the German study will be discussed such as the data sample, the percentage for blocking votes, etc. Main results will be discussed as well in terms of numbers as in terms of capitalization, branches and evolution from 1993 to 1998. The first result is that overall, patrimonial firms (those which are controlled by either individual owners or families) are the prevalent form in Germany and in France in the biggest 250 listed companies. In both countries more than 50% of these companies are patrimonial companies.

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