While it may be harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, the ranks of the rich in the Netherlands are swelling. Reflecting this, business magazine Quote doubled the length of its annual rich list in 2016 as part of its 20th birthday celebrations.
The Quote list is complicated by several factors: many rich Dutch live elsewhere for tax reasons (or perhaps an unsated lust for skiing) – and then there is family wealth as opposed to individual riches.
The best illustration of this is Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, the only child of the late beer magnate Freddy Heineken. Charlene lives in London, is resident in Switzerland and has five children. Both she and her husband hold supervisory board posts with the brewing group.
Charlene’s 25% controlling share in Heineken is worth €11bn on the Quote list, an increase of 14% over the previous year. She is by far the richest Dutch person. The Heineken heiress comes in at 76th on the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires and ranks seventh on the Sunday Times Rich List. Her annual dividend payment is in excess of €100m.
Another anomaly on the Quote List is the House of Orange. Quote estimates the Dutch royal family’s wealth at €900m (putting them eighth in the families group), but admits they could have as much as €20bn squirrelled away somewhere.
And so we turn to more regular Dutch plutocrats. Topping the Quote 1000 list for 2017 is temps king Frits Goldschmeding. Poor Frits saw his capital shrink by 25.5% last year to €3.5bn last year as Brexit took a bite out of the value of his Randstad group. Goldschmeding founded the Uitzendbureau Amstelveen in 1960, and in 1964 renamed it Randstad. Randstad went public in 1990, and in 2008 it merged with the Dutch group Vedior. The company is now the world’s second largest staffing agency.
Dik Wessels, who heads the country’s second largest building group, VolkerWessels, comes in next, with €3.3bn, representing a 10% decline. However, the company’s public flotation, announced last week, is expected to add an extra €800m to his family’s wealth.
Hans Melchers, who founded his investments empire on chemicals, is at number 3 with €2.5bn, a whopping 25% increase over last year. His current plans are to build a few museums in his old stomping ground of the Achterhoek, the economically challenged part of Overijssel on the border with Germany.
John de Mol
Entertainment mogul John de Mol is worth €2.5bn, unchanged over 2015. He made a fortune with Big Brother, but has not fared so well with his outside investments. He has also been locked in a protracted struggle to take over Telegraaf Media Groep, where he currently owns 28.7% of the total shareholding.
Also flat is fifth-ranked Wijnand Pon, Volkswagen importer, investor and Groningen’s richest man, on €1.7bn.
Multifaceted investor Marcel Boekhoorn is ranked 6th with €1.6bn, down 23.1% against the previous year. Boekhoorn, whose interests include De Telegraaf newspaper, McGregor Fashion Group, Spyker cars and football club NEC Nijmegen, told Quote that ‘a great deal of my activities are not visible to the outsider’. Does the tax office see it that way?
Lesley Bamberger (Quote says he has a toothpaste smile) is a property investor whose assets shot up by 15.4% last year to €1.5bn. Bamberger, ranked seventh, keeps himself busy with retail developments in the centre of Amsterdam.
Karel van Eerd
At number 8 Karel van Eerd is the highest-ranked of the many supermarket operators on the Quote List. His Jumbo supermarket chain had assets of €1.5bn in 2016, double that of the previous year as reorganisations and repositioning began to pay off. Jumbo acquired all 60 La Place restaurants from the bankrupt V&D department store chain and plans to stock them with Jumbo produce.
Joop van den Ende
Joop van den Ende, one-time partner of John de Mol, has moved into musicals which he claims have reached a higher level than before in the Netherlands. We’ll see. He stands ninth on the Quote list with an unchanged fortune of €1.5bn.
This being Holland, it’s only right that a top 10 place is held by Carel Nolet. He is a 10th-generation distiller who has amassed €1.5bn. Much of the increase comes from sales of his Ketel One Vodka, an absolute topper (as we Dutch say) in the US. The Schiedam distillery also turns out gin.
Quote’s richest 1000 had total assets of €116.8bn at the end of last year, a 7.2% increase on 2015. The minimum asset level for inclusion was €25m and 18 were billionaires. By way of contrast, total capital owned by the names on the Quote 500 in 1997 was €34bn.
In its illuminating and often amusing comments on its list, Quote notes that while a lot of people do not want to be on the list (or feel their wealth is overstated), many others are begging to be included. So when can we expect the Quote 2000?