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Here's a list of the world's 20 richest people in the automobile industry

Two Indians, Pallonji Mistry and Rahul Bajaj, make the list

Hannah Elliott | Bloomberg 

Bill Gates
Bill Gates' share of car dealer AutoNation propels him to the top of the list

Siblings Susanne Klatten and Stefan Quandt own almost half of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG. The billionaires are descendants of Guenther Quandt, who built a German industrial empire by, among other things, supplying weapons to the Nazis during World War II. In the years since, the family has established stakes in both Daimler-Benz AG and BMW.

Today, Klatten is Germany’s second-richest person, worth $18.6 billion, with interests in chemicals and carbon production, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Quandt, who owns part of a logistics company and a homeopathic medicine company, has a net worth of $15.5 billion. Both are members of BMW’s supervisory board, making them the richest related pair deriving wealth from the automotive industry.

All told, the 25 richest families in the world now control almost $1.4 trillion in wealth, up 24 per cent from last year. Our list of the 20 wealthiest people who have made fortunes in the automotive sector includes some household names: Tesla’s Elon Musk is worth $23.1 billion; Larry Ellison, with $58.5 billion in total wealth, owns a stake in Tesla that’s worth more than $730 million.

Others are less prominent but no less successful: Pallonji Mistry, chairman of Shapoorji Pallonji Group, owns much of Tata Sons and is worth $20.3 billion; Li Shu Fu, the chairman of Volvo and Geely, is worth $10.6 billion.

The Method

The methodology behind wealth analysis can be challenging. In fortunes backed by decades of accumulated assets and dividends, the true extent of an individual’s or family’s holdings is often obscured. Most in this tax bracket are not thrilled to have their names, assets, shares, and interests published by a global news organisation. Automotive wealth also tends to be a family affair. While individual members of these dynasties may not make the list, a clan’s overall wealth may be vast. (See: the Ford, Porsche, and Pieech families.) So we followed the same criteria applied to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index.

In order to keep it (relatively) simple, we have omitted those whose wealth comes from oil. Take the House of Saud, for instance. The family is worth an estimated $100 billion, a figure based on the cumulative payouts the country’s royals have received over the past five decades from the executive office of the king. That number doesn’t even include the planned initial public offering of its crown jewel, oil giant Saudi Aramco. It will be offered with an anticipated valuation of $2 trillion.

Maybe we’ll come up with a special list for members of the House of Saud. In the meantime, here are the year’s richest people in cars.*

*Stake value and percent of net worth figures are as of July 19, 2019. Total wealth figures are as of Oct. 9, 2019.

1. Bill Gates

Company: AutoNation Inc.(Stake Value: $914,554,258; Per cent of Total Net Worth: .9%; Total Wealth: $105 billion; Location: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Segment: Car dealers)

Gates may not be the first person you would expect to see on a list of automotive wealth, but his share of car dealer AutoNation contributes to his overall fortune, most of which comes from Microsoft Corp. and Cascade Investment (which controls stakes in dozens of publicly traded companies, including Canadian Railway, Deere, and Ecolab).

2. Larry Ellison

Company: Tesla Inc.(Stake Value: $730,773,000 to $1 billion; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 1.3%; Total Wealth: $58.5 billion; Location: Palo Alto, Calif.; Segment: Passenger vehicles)

Although he is the company’s second-largest shareholder, Ellison’s recently announced stake in Tesla is not the primary source of his wealth. He is the founder and main shareholder of the database company Oracle. The 75-year-old also owns the Indian Wells tennis event and real estate, including the island of Lanai, Hawaii.

3. Elon Musk

Company: Tesla Inc. (Stake Value: $8,307,076,693; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 36.9%; Total Wealth: $22.9 billion; Location: Palo Alto, Calif.Segment: Passenger vehicles)

Likely the most famous person invested in the segment—certainly the most colorful—the South African divides his time between Tesla, the maker of luxury electric vehicles, and SpaceX, a rocket manufacturer. Musk has always been a polarizing figure, garnering acclaim for his visionary leadership and criticism for failing to meet deadlines and engaging in public disputes.

4. Pallonji Mistry

Company: Tata Motors Ltd. (Stake Value: $302,722,710; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 1.5%; Total Wealth: $19.7 billion; Location: Mumbai; Segment: Passenger vehicles)

Mistry, 90, and his family are shareholders in Tata Sons, the holding company behind more than 100 affiliates with $100 billion in annual revenue, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The group employs 700,000 people in more than 100 countries.

5. Susanne Klatten

Company: BMW AG (Stake Value: $8,763,327,399; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 47.8%; Total Wealth: $18 billion; Location: Munich; Segment: Passenger vehicles)

Klatten, 57, is the second-richest person in Germany. She inherited her wealth from her father, German industrialist Herbert Quandt, who turned BMW from a struggling carmaker into one of the world’s largest manufacturers of luxury vehicles. Klatten recently said that dealing with the responsibility of inherited wealth is a misunderstood burden. “Many believe that we are permanently sitting around on a yacht in the Mediterranean,” she said. “The role as a guardian of wealth also has personal sides that aren’t so nice.”

6. Stefan Quandt

Company: BMW AG (Stake Value: $10,817,887,438Percent of Total Net Worth: 72.2%Total Wealth: $14.8 billionLocation: MunichSegment: Passenger vehicles)

Quandt, 53, holds substantial stakes outside the family business, including homeopathic medicine company Biologische Heilmittel Heel; credit-card maker Entrust Datacard; and logistics company Logwin. His wealth derives from family matriarch Johanna Quandt, who died in 2015.

7. Li Shu Fu

Company No. 1: Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd.(Stake Value: $38,988,918; Per cent of Total Net Worth: .4%; Location: Hangzhou, China; Segment: Passenger Vehicles)

Company No. 2: Zhejiang Geely Holding GroupStake Value: $10,520,321,446Percent of Total Net Worth: 99.9%Total Wealth: $10.6 billionLocation: Hangzhou, ChinaSegment: Auto manufacturing

Li, 56, is the founder of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, a maker of cars and related components, though he started his career manufacturing refrigerators. Geely’s $1.5 billion purchase of Volvo in 2010 was the largest ever overseas acquisition by a Chinese automaker.

8. Georg Schaeffler

Company No. 1: Continental AG (Stake Value: $9,494,765,020; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 110.4%*; Location: Hanover, Germany; Segment: Auto parts)

Company No. 2: Schaeffler AG (Stake Value: $3,116,322,400; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 36.2%; Total Wealth: $7.99 billion; Location: Herzogenaurach, Germany; Segment: Auto parts)

Shaeffler, 54, is chairman and majority owner of Schaeffler AG, which makes ball bearings and other automotive supplies. He owns 80 per cent of the company, while his mother, Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler-Thumann, owns the rest, according to company filings. The two collectively hold 46% of auto supplier Continental as well, according to the company’s website as of June 2019.

*Due to debt.

9. Blair Parry-Okeden

Company: Cox Automotive; Stake Value: $1,738,541,209; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 21.6%; Total Wealth: $7.84 billion; Location: Atlanta; Segment: Automotive services)

Parry-Okeden, 69, is the granddaughter of James Cox, who founded Cox Enterprises in 1898. She owns almost 25 per cent of the company, a $21 billion conglomerate that encompasses Kelley Blue Book and other automotive brands. She resides in Australia.

10. James Kennedy

Company: Cox Automotive; Stake Value: $1,738,541,209; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 21.6%; Total Wealth: $7.84 billion; Location: Atlanta; Segment: Automotive services)

An avid cyclist and hunter, Kennedy, 68, is the chairman of Cox Enterprises.

11. James Pattison

Company: James Pattison Group; Stake Value: $48,327,817; Per cent of Total Net Worth: .8 per cent; Total Wealth: $6.35 billion; Location: Vancouver; Segment: Car dealers)

Pattison’s company is the largest car dealer in western Canada. It also publishes the Guinness World Records standings. He began his automotive career while still in college, fixing and selling used cars to fellow students before dropping out to manage a General Motors dealership. Today, Pattison, 90, and his wife, Mary, live in Vancouver.

12. Ernie Garcia

Company No. 1: Carvana Co.(Stake Value: $4,060,262,827; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 67.4%; Location: Tempe, Ariz; .Segment: Used car dealers)

Company No. 2: DriveTime; (Stake Value: $1,005,999,251; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 16.7%; Total Wealth: $4.93 billion; Location: Tempe, Ariz.; Segment: Used car dealers and financing

Garcia, 62, is the largest shareholder of Carvana, but his son, Ernie III, runs the business. The elder Garcia started developing DriveTime in the 1990s, when he bought rental-car company Ugly Duckling out of bankruptcy. He then merged it with a financing company to make it a vehicle for selling used cars to subprime borrowers. In 1990, Garcia was convicted of fraud for playing a small role in the Charles Keating savings-and-loan scandal.

13. Hiroshi Mikitani

Company: Trust Co Ltd. (Stake Value: $234,488; Per cent of Total Net Worth: Negligible; Total Wealth: $5.87 billion; Location: Nagoya, Japan; Segment: Automotive retail)

Mikitani, 54, amassed the bulk of his wealth after he founded Rakuten, Japan’s largest cybermall, which boasts more than 1.2 billion users worldwide. He qualifies for this list by virtue of his share of Trust Co Ltd., an exporter of used vehicles. Mikitani is a music lover and chairman of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.

14. Margaretta Taylor

Company: Cox Automotive (Stake Value: $1,150,111,876; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 21.6%; Total Wealth: $5.18 billion; Location: Atlanta; Segment: Automotive services)

Taylor, 77, is the granddaughter of James Cox and the cousin of James Kennedy, who runs Cox Enterprises. She owns roughly 16 per cent of the family business, which owns Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader.com, among other brands.

15. James Cox Chambers

Company: Cox Automotive; (Stake Value: $1,150,111,876; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 21.6%;Total Wealth: $5.18 billion; Location: Atlanta; Segment: Automotive services)

Chambers, 62, is the cousin of James Kennedy, who runs Cox Enterprises. He owns 16% of the company. He’s also an organic farmer in Columbia County, N.Y.

16. Katharine Rayner

Company: Cox Automotive; (Stake Value: $1,150,111,876; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 21.6%; Total Wealth: $5.18 billion; Location: Atlanta; Segment: Automotive services)

Rayner, 74, is the granddaughter of company founder James Cox. She has largely stayed out of the public eye.

17. Quek Leng Chan

Company No. 1: Hong Leong Asia Ltd. (Stake Value: $5,103,369; Per cent of Total Net Worth: .1%; Location: Kuala Lumpur; Segment: Auto parts)

Company No. 2: Hong Leong Industries Bhd.; Stake Value: $291,110,648; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 5.5%; Total Wealth: $5.27 billion; Location: Kuala Lumpur; Segment: Motorbikes and parts)

Quek, 76, has interests in almost a dozen public companies, including property manager Guoco Group, insurer Hong Leong Financial, and manufacturer Hong Leong Industries. He’s a cigar aficionado.

18. Rahul Bajaj

Company No. 1: Bajaj Finance Ltd. (Stake Value: $586,320,006; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 12.4%; Location: Pune, India; Segment: Auto financing)

Company No. 2: Bajaj Auto Ltd. (Stake Value: $1,208,532,867; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 25.5%; Total Wealth: $5.2 billion; Location: Pune, India; Segment: Motorbikes and parts)

Bajaj, 81, is the chairman of the world’s largest maker of three-wheeled motorcycles. He attended Harvard Business School and also owns stakes in an investment company and an insurance firm. His grandfather, Jamnalal Bajaj, an Indian independence fighter and Mahatma Gandhi confidant, founded the group in 1926.

19. Chung Mong-Koo

Company No. 1: Hyundai Motor Co. (Stake Value: $1,269,429,178; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 27.9%; Location: Seoul; Segment: Passenger vehicles)

Company No. 2: Hyundai Mobis Co. (Stake Value: $1,408,455,597; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 30.9%; Total Wealth: $4.5 billion; Location: SeoulSegment: Automotive technology)

Chung, 81, is the chairman of Hyundai Motor Group. He was convicted in 2007 of embezzling $110.5 million from Hyundai, Kia, and other affiliates and using the funds as a political slush fund. He was pardoned in 2008 by then-South Korean President Lee Myung Bak.

20. Wang Chuan-Fu

Company: BYD Co. (Stake Value: $3,522,094,647; Per cent of Total Net Worth: 82.4%; Location: Shenzhen, China; Segment: Passenger vehicles)

Company: BYD Co Ltd. (Stake Value: $4,993,622; Per cent of Total Net Worth: .1%Total Wealth: $4.11 billion; Location: Shenzhen, China; Segment: Passenger vehicles)

Wang, 53, is the founder and largest shareholder of BYD. The company makes cars, buses, and other goods, including cell phone batteries.

First Published: Fri, October 11 2019. 12:25 IST
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