It’s Ours! Walton Family Reclaiming Control Of Wal-Mart
12:39 pm, June 7th | by Hillary Reinsberg
The Waltons are back! America’s wealthiest family will again become the face of the world’s largest family business. Attention Walmart shoppers (and employees and investors): The Waltons are running this company. And you’d better trust them… or else.
Since 1992, when Walmart founder Sam Walton died, his descendants have been building up from a 38-percent stake in the company, up to 49 percent, where they are currently, according to Reuters Breakingviews. Last week, the company announced a buyback plan wherein the descendants will (once again) up their stake, likely to 53 percent. There are some stock ownership technicalities, but the takeaway is this: They’ll definitely have the majority.
Financially, it won’t mean much for the already impossibly wealthy family. What’s an extra percent when you all already have close to $20 billion each? Well, not much of significance in terms of money in the bank (just an extra bil or so) but, governance-wise, it could be huge. With an over 50-percent controlling stake, the family has full say over everything, essentially. As Reuters points out, the over 50-percent stake even means that the same New York Stock Exchange rules would no longer apply, so it will no longer be required that the company’s board of directors be a majority independent.
In the recent past, the Walton family hasn’t felt intimately tied to the company. Complaints about the retailer aren’t usually aimed directly at the family (its executive board has that distinct pleasure). But with the Walton gang in control again, we’re expecting lots of spotlight on the big, happy family. Time will tell if they actually stay ethical and don’t go all control-freak on Walmart investors.