A Theory of Pyramidal Ownership and Family Business Groups

  • Published: Jan 11, 2007
  • Pages: 2637-2680
  • DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6261.2006.01001.x


We provide a new rationale for pyramidal ownership in family business groups. A pyramid allows a family to access all retained earnings of a firm it already controls to set up a new firm, and to share the new firm's nondiverted payoff with shareholders of the original firm. Our model is consistent with recent evidence of a small separation between ownership and control in some pyramids, and can differentiate between pyramids and dual‐class shares, even when either method can achieve the same deviation from one share–one vote. Other predictions of the model are consistent with both systematic and anecdotal evidence.

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