Who Owns Walmart? Walmart is owned by its shareholders. The Walton family is the largest shareholder of Walmart, holding 50% of the company’s shares. The Walton family acquired such high ownership of the company because they are the descendants of Sam Walton, who founded the company. The family received a majority of the shares via inheritance and made additional purchases.
Brief History of Walmart
Walmart’s history began in 1945 when Sam Walton bought one branch of the Ben Franklin store franchise in Newport, Arkansas. Sam continued to operate the store he bought as one of Ben Franklin’s variety stores for a few years. During that time, he gained more knowledge of the retail industry and discovered the secrets to running a successful business. In the early 1960s, he decided to create a different kind of retail store that would offer great value to customers at very affordable prices, rather than continue to operate the Ben Franklin store.
In 1962, Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store in Rogers, Arkansas. The location favored him since it was very populated and close to his existing operations. Although Walton is the sole founder of the Walmart company, he received assistance from his family, especially his brother, Bud Walton, and Bud Walton’s father-in-law. Bud Walton helped Sam to manage the first Walmart store and eventually became Sam’s business partner. Bud Walton’s father-in-law also provided finances for the company to operate.
Brief History of Sam Walton
Sam Walton was an American entrepreneur and businessman who was born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. He served in the military in 1942 during World War II and reached the rank of captain before he returned home after the war. He studied economics at the University of Missouri. Walton worked for some retail businesses before he established his own retail business. J.C. Penney is an example of a retail business he once worked for. Walton had several innovative business practices which helped him grow Walmart. For instance, he focused on the affordability of products and employee ownership. Walton’s career was outstanding, and he received lots of awards and honors, including a Presidential Medal of Freedom that he received from President George H. W. Bush for his dedication to the community and contributions to the retail industry. Also, in 1989, he was inducted into the Retail Hall of Fame to honor his achievements in the retail sector. He died on April 5, 1992, at the age of 74. He was already among the wealthiest people worldwide at the time he died. To date, his legacy is well known as an entrepreneur committed to low prices, innovation, philanthropy, and customer service.
On October 1, 1970, Walmart went public on the New York Stock Exchange. The initial price offering was $16.50 per share. The company offered 300,000 shares for sale and was able to raise about $5 million after selling them. In 1980, Walmart split its stock for the first time. Walmart continued to slip its stock several times over the years. As of now, the company has broken its inventory 11 times, and each split was 2-for-1. The price of Walmart’s stock has risen considerably compared to the IPO, despite the numerous stock split. Currently, each Walmart stock trades above $140.
Top Shareholders of Walmart
The Walton Family
The Walton family is Walmart’s largest shareholder, having approximately 50% of Walmart’s shares, worth about $190 billion. Some prominent members of the Walton family are Jim Walton, Rob Walton, Alice Walton, and Lukas Walton. It’s important to note that the distribution of shares among individual members of the Walton family is not publicly disclosed.
Vanguard Group, Inc.
The Vanguard Group holds 4.84% of Walmart shares, worth about $18.3 billion. Vanguard Group, Inc., is a registered investment advisor in Malvern, Pennsylvania, having approximately $7 trillion in global assets under its management as of January 13, 2021. The Vanguard Group, Inc., is currently the largest provider of mutual funds worldwide
BlackRock, Inc., holds 3.60% of Walmart shares, worth about $13.6 billion. BlackRock, Inc., is a multinational investment company in New York City. It is the largest asset manager in the world, with about $10 trillion worth of assets as of January 2022. The company actively encourages investors to evaluate how their investments affect the environment and society.
State Street Corporation
State Street Corporation holds 2.25% of Walmart shares, worth about $8.5 billion. State Street Corporation is a financial institution in Boston, Massachusetts. The company had more than $4.4 trillion in assets under its management as of December 31, 2021.
Geode Capital Management, LLC
Geode Capital Management LLC owns 0.92% of Walmart shares worth $3.48 billion. Geode Capital Management LLC is an investment management company with headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. As of December 2021, Geode Capital Management had about $730 billion in assets under management.
Contributions of the Walton Family to Walmart
The Walton family makes significant contributions to Walmart. Here are some of them:
As the top shareholder of Walmart, the Walton family makes a majority of Walmart’s decisions. The members of the family have also held key positions in the company. For instance, S. Robson Walton, who is the oldest son of Sam Walton was Walmart’s chairman between 1992 and 2015.
Create Significant Shareholder Value
The 50% of Walmart shares that the Walton family owns demonstrates the family’s belief in the company’s long-term success. This fact has always been a good signal to investors and part of the reasons they value the company’s shares.
Stability of Ownership Structure
The ownership structure of Walmart has been very stable so far, despite being a publicly traded company. The stability has created a sense of consistency, especially for investors. The large quantity of Walmart shares in the family’s possession is the reason for such stability. Even if major institutional investors sell out their shares, the company’s ownership structure won’t change considerably.
Walmart is owned majorly by the Walton family as well as institutional shareholders. The company’s origin traces back to Sam Walton, so it’s not so surprising that his descendants are the major owners of Walmart. The company’s board comprises independent directors, Walmart executives, and members of the Walton family. The Walton family as a whole has contributed significantly to Walmart’s growth.