Who Owns Walmart in 2023: Networth & Background Story

Who Owns Walmart
Credit: Forbes

Who owns Walmart? Walmart’s shareholders own the company. The Walton family, however, is Walmart’s largest shareholder, holding 50% of the company. The Walton family has such a significant stake in the company because they are the descendants of Sam Walton, who founded it. The family inherited the majority of the shares and made additional purchases.

But what is the background story behind who owns Walmart stores and how did they get the company to its present level?

Let’s find out…

Who Owns Walmart: Overview

  • The Waltons are America’s wealthiest family thanks to their ownership of Walmart, the world’s largest retailer by sales.
  • Seven heirs of founders Sam Walton (d. 1992) and his brother James “Bud” (d. 1995) own roughly half of Walmart stock.
  • Sam’s three living children, Rob, Jim, and Alice, his daughter-in-law Christy and her son Lukas, and Bud’s two daughters, Ann and Nancy, are among the heirs.
  • Rob Walton was chairman for more than two decades and is still on the board, along with his son-in-law, current chairman Greg Penner.
  • Arvest Bank, which operates 16 banks in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas, is also owned by the family.

Walmart’s Brief History

The history of Walmart began in 1945, when Sam Walton purchased a branch of the Ben Franklin store franchise in Newport, Arkansas. Sam ran the store he bought for a few years as one of Ben Franklin’s variety stores. During that time, he learned more about the retail industry and how to run a successful business. Rather than continuing to operate the Ben Franklin store, he decided in the early 1960s to create a new type of retail store that would provide great value to customers at meager prices.

Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1962. He liked the location because it was densely populated and close to his existing operations. Although Walton is the sole founder of Walmart, he was assisted by his family, particularly his brother, Bud Walton, and Bud Walton’s father-in-law. Bud Walton assisted Sam in running the first Walmart store and later became Sam’s business partner. Bud Walton’s father-in-law also contributed funds to the company’s operations.

Is China the Owner of Walmart?

No, China does not own Walmart, nor has it been sold to a Chinese investment group.

A claim that Walmart had been sold to a Chinese firm was proven false by the USA TODAY fact check. A Facebook post on January 2, 2021, claimed that a Chinese business group had purchased America’s largest retailer. This needs to be corrected.

The Walton family still owns most of Walmart stock, and the rest is “widely distributed across the marketplace, with no single entity holding more than the approximately 5% held by Vanguard,” according to the fact check.

Who Is Walmart’s Largest Shareholder?

The Walton family is Walmart’s largest shareholder, owning more than half of all Walmart shares. The Vanguard Group is Walmart’s second-largest shareholder, holding approximately 5% of total Walmart shares.

According to its corporate website, Walmart became a publicly traded company in 1970, and its first stock was sold at $16.50 per share.

Sam Walton’s Biography

Sam Walton was an American businessman and entrepreneur born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. He joined the military in 1942 and rose to the rank of captain before returning home at the war’s end. He attended the University of Missouri and majored in economics. Walton worked for a few retail establishments before starting his own. J.C. Penney is an example of a retail company where he previously worked.

Walton used several innovative business practices to help Walmart grow. For instance, he concentrated on product affordability and employee ownership. Walton’s career was exceptional, and he received numerous awards and honors, including a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H. W. Bush for his community service and contributions to the retail industry. In addition, he was inducted into the Retail Hall of Fame in 1989 to recognize his achievements in the retail sector.

On April 5, 1992, he died at the age of 74. He was already among the world’s wealthiest people when he died. His legacy as an entrepreneur committed to low prices, innovation, philanthropy, and customer service is well known today.

The Walmart IPO

Walmart went public on the New York Stock Exchange on October 1, 1970. The initial offering price was $16.50 per share. After selling 300,000 shares, the company raised approximately $5 million. Walmart split its stock for the first time in 1980. Walmart’s stock continued to slip several times over the years. Currently, the company has divided its inventory 11 times; each split being a 2-for-1 split. Despite the numerous stock splits, the price of Walmart’s stock has risen significantly since the IPO. Each Walmart stock is currently trading above $140.

Walmart’s Top Shareholders

#1. The Walton Clan

The Walton family is Walmart’s largest shareholder, owning approximately 50% of the company’s stock, worth approximately $190 billion. Jim Walton, Rob Walton, Alice Walton, and Lukas Walton are all members of the Walton family. It’s worth noting that the distribution of shares among individual members of the Walton family is not made public.

#2. Vanguard Group, Inc.

The Vanguard Group owns 4.84% of Walmart’s stock, worth approximately $18.3 billion. Vanguard Group, Inc., based in Malvern, Pennsylvania, is a registered investment advisor with about $7 trillion in global assets under management as of January 13, 2021. The Vanguard Group, Inc. is the world’s largest provider of mutual funds.

#3. BlackRock, Inc.

BlackRock, Inc. owns 3.60% of Walmart’s stock, valued at approximately $13.6 billion. This company is a New York-based multinational investment firm. It is the world’s largest asset manager, with roughly $10 trillion in assets as of January 2022. The company actively encourages investors to consider the impact of their investments on the environment and society.

#4. State Street Corp.

State Street Corporation owns 2.25% of Walmart’s stock, valued at approximately $8.5 billion. It is a Boston-based financial institution. As of December 31, 2021, the company managed more than $4.4 trillion in assets.

#5. Geode Capital Management, LLC

This company owns 0.92% of Walmart’s stock, valued at $3.48 billion. Geode Capital Management LLC is an investment management firm based in Boston, Massachusetts. Geode Capital Management managed approximately $730 billion in assets as of December 2021.

Contributions of the Walton Family to Walmart

The Walton family contributes significantly to Walmart. Here are a few examples:

#1. Decision-Making

As Walmart’s largest shareholder, the Walton family makes the majority of the company’s decisions. Members of the family have also held important positions within the company. For example, between 1992 and 2015, S. Robson Walton, Sam Walton’s oldest son, served as Walmart’s chairman.

#2. Create Significant Shareholder Value

The Walton family’s ownership of 50% of Walmart shares demonstrates the family’s belief in the company’s long-term success. This has always been a positive signal to investors and is one of the reasons they value the company’s stock.

#3. Ownership Structure Stability

Despite being publicly traded, Walmart’s ownership structure has remained relatively stable. The consistency has created a sense of consistency, particularly among investors. The family’s stability can be attributed to the many Walmart shares in their possession. The company’s ownership structure will remain relatively unchanged even if major institutional investors sell their shares.

Top 3 Individual Insider Shareholders

#1. Mr. Jim C. Walton

Sam Walton’s youngest son is Jim C. Walton. He served on Walmart’s board of directors for more than a decade. He handed over that position to his son Steuart, who now leads Walmart’s technology and e-commerce division.

Jim is the chairman of the Walton family-owned Arvest Bank. The bank, the oldest in Arkansas and one of the largest in the country offers customers everyday banking services, loans, mortgages, and investment services. Arvest’s assets total more than $26 billion.

Jim Walton controls approximately 1.298 billion shares of the company.

#2. Alice L. Walton

Alice L. Walton is Walmart founder Sam Walton’s only daughter. She is also one of the wealthiest women in America, with a net worth of $60.9 billion.

She owns 1.294 billion company shares.

Unlike her siblings, she does not work for the company that her father founded. Instead, Alice Walton is the chair of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which she founded in 2005 in Bentonville, Arkansas. The collection includes works by well-known artists such as Andy Warhol.

However, she worked for Walmart as a children’s clothing buyer after graduating from Trinity College in the early 1970s.

An insider is someone in senior management, a member of the board of directors, or someone or something that owns more than 10% of the company’s stock. It has nothing to do with insider trading in this context.

#3. S. Robson (Rob) Walton

S. Robson (Rob) Walton, the son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, began working for the company in 1969, seven years after its inception. From 1992 to 2015, he chaired Walmart’s board of directors when the company grew from a small chain to one of the world’s largest retailers.

Before becoming chair, he held several positions, including senior vice president, corporate secretary, general counsel, and vice chair. Before joining Walmart, he was a partner at Conner & Winters in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He stepped down from the board in 2015.

Walton owns more than 1.291 billion Walmart shares.

According to Forbes, his net worth is $61.8 billion.

Jim and Alice Walton are not directors of the company.

The Top Three Institutional Shareholders

In comparison to institutional holdings of other large-cap stocks, institutional investors own approximately 33% of Walmart’s total outstanding shares.

This relatively small share can be explained by the fact that the Walton family owns the majority of the company’s total outstanding shares, at around 50.1%.

#1. John T. Walton Estate Trust

The John T. Walton Estate Trust owns more than one billion company shares, according to the most recent proxy statement.

The company was formed in Wyoming.

The trust’s cotrustees are the three Walton children mentioned above: Jim, Alice, and Rob. These three people can sell and/or vote on those shares. The Walton children are also managing members of Walton Enterprises, the private holding company that manages the Walton family’s ownership interests in Walmart.

#2. The Vanguard Group

With approximately $6.2 trillion in global assets under management (AUM), Vanguard Group is primarily a mutual and exchange-traded (ETF) management firm.

With approximately $151 billion in AUM, the Vanguard S& P 500 ETF (VOO) is one of its largest ETFs. Walmart accounts for 0.62% of VOO’s holdings.

Vanguard owns approximately 130.2 million shares of Walmart as of September 29, 2022. This amounts to about 4.9% of all outstanding shares.

#3. BlackRock

BlackRock offers investors and institutions various services, including investment, advisory, and risk management. The company was founded in 1988 and has grown to have a presence in 36 countries.

Investors may be familiar with BlackRock through its mutual funds and iShares ETFs. These products allow investors to gain exposure to the equity, fixed-income, and commodity markets.

It is, in fact, one of the world’s largest investment management firms, with more than $10 trillion in AUM as of December 31, 2021.

As of September 29, 2022, BlackRock held approximately 96.6 million shares, accounting for approximately 3.6% of the total shares outstanding.


The Walton family and institutional investors primarily own Walmart. Because Walmart’s roots can be traced back to Sam Walton, it’s not surprising that his descendants own most of the company. The company’s board of directors comprises independent directors, Walmart executives, and members of the Walton family. The Walton family has made significant contributions to Walmart’s growth.

Who Owns Walmart: References

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