Who owns Walmart? Walmart is owned by its shareholders. As of September 2023, the total number of outstanding shares was 2,694,000,000. The Walton family is the major shareholder of Walmart, holding 50% of the company’s shares. They acquired this ownership through inheritance and additional purchases as descendants of Sam Walton, the company’s founder.
Starting from humble beginnings just over 50 years ago, Walmart has become the largest retail company in the world. Walmart’s vision is to “make every day easier for busy families.” The company considers “busy families” as the main focus of its business strategy.
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The History of Walmart
Walmart, an American multinational retail corporation, was established in 1962 by Sam Walton in Arkansas. It operates a chain of hypermarkets, grocery, and discount stores.
Walmart’s history started in 1945 when a military veteran, Sam Walton and his wife purchased a Ben Franklin store franchise branch in Newport, Arkansas. Initially, Sam operated this store as one of Ben Franklin’s variety stores, acquiring valuable experience and insights into the retail industry. He learned the hidden strategies behind running a prosperous retail business through all these years.
Until 1962, Walmart’s founders focused on opening different stores. It wasn’t until 1983 that Walmart opened its first Sam’s Club and, in 1988, its first supercenter.
By 1990, Walmart had become the nation’s leading retailer. The Everyday Low Prices strategy expanded internationally as the Walmart Supercenter revolutionized convenience and one-stop shopping.
Walmart enters the 21st century and is committed to offering a seamless shopping experience across all channels, including online, in-store, and on mobile devices.
Who Was Sam Walton
Sam Walton was born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, on March 29, 1918. He graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in economics in 1940. After serving in the Army during World War II, Walton opened his first Ben Franklin variety store in Newport, Arkansas, in 1945.
In 1950, Walton moved to Bentonville, Arkansas, and opened Walton’s 5&10. He was inspired to start his own business after working for J.C. Penney, where he learned about the importance of customer service and low prices.
He focused on product affordability and employee ownership. Walton had an exceptional career, receiving numerous awards and honors. One notable achievement was the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by President George H. W. Bush for his dedication to the community and contributions to the retail industry. Additionally, in 1989, he was inducted into the Retail Hall of Fame to acknowledge his significant accomplishments in the retail sector.
In 1992, Sam Walton passed away, recently receiving the Medal of Freedom. Walmart continues as a leader in the retail industry.
Walmart first went public in 1970 on the New York Stock Exchange. The initial offering price was $16.50 per share. Since then, Walmart stock has split two-for-one 11 times. This means an investor who purchased 100 shares for $1,650 in 1970 would now possess 204,800 shares, valued at approximately $17 million after 40 years. Quarterly dividends have been consistently paid since 1973.
Individual Shareholders (Walton Family)
Walton C. Walton
Jim C. Walton, the youngest son of Sam Walton, served on Walmart’s board for over a decade before passing the baton to his son, Steuart, in 2016. Currently, he chairs Walmart’s technology and e-commerce unit.
Additionally, Jim holds the position of Chairman at Arvest Bank, a Walton family-owned institution. Established in Arkansas and counted among the nation’s largest banks, Arvest provides comprehensive banking services, loans, mortgages, and investment solutions, boasting assets exceeding $26 billion. Jim Walton commands ownership of approximately 1.298 billion shares within the company.
S. Robson Walton
S. Robson Walton, the son of Walmart’s founder, played a significant role in the company’s success, serving as board chairman for 23 years and accumulating a considerable ownership stake.
As of September 18, 2023, he owns 1,291 billion shares, about 12% of all shares. Robson is Walmart’s largest individual shareholder. According to Forbes-estimated net worth stands at $61.8 billion.
Alice Walton, the daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, is one of the wealthiest women in the United States, with a net worth of $60.9 billion. She possesses 1.294 billion shares of Walmart, representing approximately 12% ownership in the company.
Vanguard Group is one of the largest institutional shareholders of Walmart. Currently, Vanguard owns 4.84% of Walmart’s shares, amounting to an approximate value of $18.3 billion. Vanguard is a registered investment advisor based in Malvern, Pennsylvania, with approximately $7 trillion in global assets under management. It is currently the largest provider of mutual funds globally.
BlackRock Inc. is one of the leading institutional shareholders of Walmart Inc., with a 3.60% stake worth approximately $13.6 billion. The multinational investment management corporation located in New York City. It is the world’s largest asset management company, with an impressive $10 trillion in assets under its management.
John T. Walton Estate Trust
The latest proxy statement reveals that the John T. Walton Estate Trust holds over one billion shares in the company. This trust’s governance is a shared responsibility, with the Walton siblings, Jim, Alice, and Rob, serving as co-trustees. Together, they have the authority to sell and vote on these significant holdings. Furthermore, the Walton children also hold important positions as managing members of Walton Enterprises, the private entity in charge of managing the Walmart ownership interests of the Walton family.
State Street Corporation
State Street Corporation is a well-known financial services company based in Boston, Massachusetts. It is one of the world’s largest asset managers, overseeing over $4.4 trillion in assets as of December 31, 2021.
State Street Corporation currently possesses a 2.23% stake in Walmart Inc., amounting to approximately $9.8 billion. This position places it as the fourth largest institutional shareholder of Walmart.
Walmart’s ownership combines the Walton family’s heritage and institutional shareholders. As the company was founded by Sam Walton, it is expected that his descendants would hold a significant ownership stake. The board consists of independent directors, Walmart executives, and members of the Walton family, who have all played a substantial role in the growth of Walmart.