European Family Businesses - Families in Business for the long term

Definition

The common feature of these companies is that of the family dimension, where business and ownership are intertwined. Family businesses can be small, medium sized or large, listed or unlisted. Family businesses in Europe have been widely equated to Small and Medium- Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in public and policy discussions. However, this neglects the fact that there are also large family businesses.

A firm, of any size, is a family business, if:

  • The majority of decision-making rights are in the possession of the natural person(s) who established the firm, or in the possession of the natural person(s) who has/have acquired the share capital of the firm, or in the possession of their spouses, parents, child or children's direct heirs.
  • The majority of decision-making rights are indirect or direct.
  • At least one representative of the family or kin is formally involved in the governance of the firm.
  • Listed companies meet the definition of family enterprise if the person who established or acquired the firm (share capital) or their families or descendants possess 25% of the decisionmaking rights mandated by their share capital.