Who Owns Nestlé: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Article Teaser: Who Owns Nestlé: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Nestlé S.A. (SW:NESN) is a giant food company and one of the world’s largest companies across sectors. It makes money mainly from powdered and liquid beverages, pet care products, milk products, and ice cream. Let’s look at who owns Nestlé and who controls it.

Nestlé’s largest shareholder is asset manager giant BlackRock, which owns a 5.0% share. It is also the only shareholder that breached the 5% ownership threshold that requires public disclosure of ownership.

 Nestlé's Largest Shareholders (Dec 2022)
Shareholder Ownership Voting Power
BlackRock 5.0% 5.0%
Other 95.0% 95.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Annual Report

Who ows Nestlé vs who controls it chart

In this article, I will dive more into who owns Nestlé and who controls it. I will show you who Nestlé’s largest shareholders are, how many shares and votes they have, and how much their stake is worth.

If you are interested, you can also explore who owns other companies like UnitedHealth Group, Alphabet(Google), L’Oréal, Apple, and other articles about who owns who.

📃 Who Owns Nestlé?

Who owns Nestlé, largest shareholders donut chart

Nestlé is owned by its shareholders. The largest one is asset manager giant BlackRock, which owns 5.0% of the company. No other shareholder owns more than 5% of Nestlé.

No shareholder has dominant ownership in the company. Nestlé’s ownership is dispersed, and the largest owners are asset managers who invest money on behalf of their clients.

  • Nestlé dispersed ownership is to be expected. The company was founded over 150 years ago and became publicly traded early on. Its large size is also a contributing factor.
  • Nestlé’s 5% cap on voting power does not help either.

Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway had a stake in Nestlé, but only for a short time between 2009 and 2010. However, it does not own any stake anymore.

Nestlé was founded in 1866 by Charles and George Page and independently a year later by Henri Nestlé. It has been a publicly listed company since its initial public offering on Swiss Exchange in 1873 (Ticker: SW:NESN).

  • Nestlé was founded by brothers Charles and George Page, who founded Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk company in 1966.
  • Independently of Page’s brothers, Henri Nestlé launched his famous infant formula in 1967 and founded his own company “Société Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé.”
  • Henry Nestlé sold his company in 1875, and Nestlé and Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company merged in 1905.
  • Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk shares have been publicly traded since 1873. However, at that time, it was still a separate company from Henri Nestlé’s business, which was not publicly traded until the merger of both companies in 1905.

Nestlé S.A. is incorporated in Switzerland, and its headquarters are in Vevey, Switzerland.

🎮 Who Controls Nestlé (SW:NESN)?

Who controls Nestlé, largest shareholders donut chart

Nestlé’s shareholder with the largest voting power is asset manager giant BlackRock, which holds 5.0% of all votes. BlackRock owns exactly 5.04% of Nestlé; however, Nestlé’s articles of incorporation limit voting power to a maximum of 5%.

Nestlé has only one class of outstanding shares, with one vote per share. Despite that, ownership and voting power might differ if the shareholder owns more than 5% of Nestlé.

  • Nestlé’s Articles of Incorporation limit the voting power of any shareholder or connected group of shareholders to 5%.
  • Additionally, Switzerland, where the company is incorporated, has pretty protective rules about hostile takeovers even without this 5% cap.
  • The 5% cap is not the only reason why the ownership of Nestlé S.A. is dispersed, but it is a significant factor.

Nestlé’s dispersed ownership creates conflicts of interest between Nestlé’s management, asset manager’s management, and the ultimate underlying investors that asset managers represent. In situations like these, insiders of the large asset manager shareholders and insiders of the company hold significant power over it.

Considering the 5% cap makes the whole company even more full of different conflicts of interest.

Nestlé’s insiders that have influence over the company are CEO Ulf Mark Schneider, chairman of the board Paul Bulcke, and other board members and executives.

  • Nestlé currently has a 14-member board of directors, reelected annually.
  • As I mentioned before, the company dispersed ownership and a 5% cap on voting power strengthens the management and board’s power over the company.
  • The insider with the largest share ownership (0.06%) is chairman Paul Bulcke, who previously served as CEO and is a long-time Nestlé employee.
  • Nobody else from the board of directors or executive officers holds more than 0.05% share of Nestlé’s stocks.

🗳️ Breakdown of Nestlé’s Outstanding Shares and Votes by Top Shareholders

Nestlé S.A. had a total of 2,668 million outstanding shares as of December 2022. The following table shows how many shares each Nestlé’s large shareholder holds.

 Nestlé's Outstanding Shares by Shareholder
In millions of shares as of December 2022
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
BlackRock 134 134 5.0%
Other 2,534 2,534 95.0%
Total (# millions) 2,668 2,668 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Annual Report

There were 2,667 million votes distributed among shareholders of Nestlé S.A.. The table below shows the total number of votes for each large shareholder.

 Nestlé's Vote Control by Shareholder
In millions of votes as of December 2022
Shareholder Class A Proxy Total % Share
BlackRock 134 -1 133 5.0%
Other 2,534 - 2,534 95.0%
Total (# millions) 2,668 - 2,667 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Annual Report

💵 Breakdown of Nestlé’s Market Value by Shareholder

The following table summarizes how much is each shareholder’s stake in Nestlé S.A. worth.

However, keep in mind that a stake in Nestlé could be just one part of their portfolio, and their total worth could be bigger, thanks to other investments. It could also be lower if they have debts.

 Nestlé's Market Value by Shareholder
Market value in billions $ as of December 2022
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
BlackRock $15.6 $15.6 5.0%
Other $294.1 $294.1 95.0%
Total ($ billions) $309.7 $309.7 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Annual Report

Let’s now look at each Nestlé shareholder individually.

📒 Who Are Nestlé’s Largest Shareholders?

Let’s now go through the list of the largest shareholders of Nestlé S.A. one by one and look at who they are, how many shares they own, what is their voting power, and how much is their stake in Nestlé worth.

#1 BlackRock (5.0%)

BlackRock's share ownership and voting power in Nestlé (chart)

BlackRock is the largest shareholder of Nestlé, owning 5.0% of its shares. However, because other shareholders hold super-voting shares, BlackRock’s voting power is only 5.0%. As of December 2022, the market value of BlackRock’s stake in Nestlé was $15.6 billion.

BlackRock owned 134 million shares in Nestlé and controlled 133 million shareholder votes as of December 2022.

BlackRock, Inc. is the world’s largest asset manager, with assets under management of $10 trillion. BlackRock is not only an asset manager, but it also provides other asset managers and corporations with its Aladdin portfolio management software.

BlackRock is a publicly traded company, and its largest shareholders are its competitors, including BlackRock itself. Not directly but through their passive and active funds. The largest shareholder is Vanguard.

A similar situation is also true in the opposite direction because BlackRock is a significant shareholder in many of its publicly traded competitors and other large institutions, making the whole thing even more eyebrow-raising.

This circular ownership between Vanguard, BlackRock, and other large asset managers, amplifies the issue often raised about the power of these large asset managers over public companies since they usually belong to the most significant shareholders with large voting power.

  • In the case of Blackrock, this influence is personified in the form of its CEO Larry Fink, who is a powerful figure with close ties to the FED and the US government.

  • Adding to these concerns is evidence that BlackRock and other asset managers usually vote in favor of management proposals.

❔ Does Nestlé owns Coca-Cola?

Nestlé does not own Coca-Cola, and Coca-Cola does not own Nestlé. They are two independent companies. However, they unsuccessfully tried to cooperate in the past.

Coca-Cola and Nestlé formed Coca-Cola Nestlé Refreshments Company (CCNR) in 1991. It was a 50:50 partnership between both companies, and its purpose was to combine the companies’ strengths to develop and distribute ready-to-drink coffee and tea products. On paper, it sounded like a partnership from heaven, and for some time, it looked like things were moving in the right direction.

However, after several disputes between both companies, the joint venture was dissolved in 1994.

Despite the previous failure, both companies tried to succeed again in 2001 under a new name “Beverage Partners Worldwide.” This time the partnership had a longer duration and mainly focused on NESTEA products, but again, it was closed down in 2018.

After that, Nestlé started to distribute Nestea independently. But in selected markets, Coca-Cola received the license to manufacture and distribute the Nestea brand.

❔ Does L’Oréal owns Nestlé?

Currently, Nestlé owns 20% of L’Oréal. Historically L’Oréal also owned a stake in Nestlé since 1974, when their mutual ownership began. However, it is not known if L’Oreál or the Bettencourt family, which owns L’Oréal, still holds a stake in Nestlé.

Origins of Nestlé and L’Oréal mutual ownership go back to 1974 when Liliane Bettencourt, the daughter of the founder of L’Oréal and at the time controlling shareholder, exchanged nearly half of her shares in L’Oréal for shares in Nestlé S.A.

Liliane Bettencourt’s motivation was that she was afraid that the company would be nationalized after the upcoming French elections if Socialists came to power.

Information about the size and development of Nestlé ownership in Loréal is public. Although Nestlé over the years decreased its ownership in Loréal, it still owns around 20% stake.

On the other hand, it is hard to find any concrete information about L’Oréal or Bettencourt’s family ownership in Nestlé. They might have sold the stake already, or it might still exist. Since Nestlé shareholders over 5% need to be disclosed, we at least know that the ownership is below 5%.

🧱 Who and When Founded Nestlé?

History of Nestlé was started in 1866 by two American brothers, Charles and George Page, who founded Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Co. A year later, Henri Nestlé independently launched his infant food business. Both eventually merged in 1905.

As I mentioned, Nestlé’s company history did not start with Henri Nestlé but with Charles and George Page, who started using an abundant supply of milk in Switzerland to produce condensed milk and sell it under the Milkmaid brand.

Independently of Page’s brother, pharmacist Henri Nestlé launched his revolutionary infant formula “farine lactée” (flour with milk) in Vevey (Switzerland) in 1867. His product was designed for infants who could not be breastfed. Henri Nestlé later, in 1975, sold his business to three local businessmen who quickly expanded production and sales.

After Henri Nestlé sold his business, the competition between Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk and Nestlé company heated up. The company started offering similar products and fighting for the same customers.

In 1905 both companies merged and created Nestlé & Anglo-Swiss Milk Company, a pivotal milestone in the company’s history. At this time, the company was already running a global business with 20 factories worldwide.

📅 Nestlé’s History Timeline

These are selected events from Nestlé’s history:

  • 1866: Brothers Charles and George Page founded the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company.
  • 1867: Nestlé’s founder, German-born pharmacist Henri Nestlé, launches his ‘farine lactée’ (‘flour with milk’) in Vevey, Switzerland.
  • 1875: Henri Nestlé sells his company “Société Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé” to three local businessmen.
  • 1877: Anglo-Swiss added milk-based baby foods to its products, and in the following year, the Nestlé Company added condensed milk to its portfolio, which turned both firms into direct rivals.
  • 1890: Henri Nestlé dies.
  • 1904: Nestlé starts selling chocolate for the first time after taking over export sales for Peter & Kohler.
  • 1905: Anglo-Swiss and Nestlé merge to form the Nestlé & Anglo-Swiss Milk Company.
  • 1916: Nestlé & Anglo-Swiss acquires Norwegian dairy company Egron, which has patented a spray-drying process for producing milk powder.
  • 1929: Nestlé buys Switzerland’s largest chocolate company, Peter-Cailler-Kohler.
  • 1936: Nestlé & Anglo-Swiss is transformed into a holding company with a dual geographical structure.
  • 1938: Nescafé is launched as a ‘powdered extract of pure coffee’.
  • 1947: Nestlé & Anglo Swiss merged with Swiss company Alimentana SA, which produced Maggi soups, bouillons, and seasonings. It’s renamed Nestlé Alimentana SA.
  • 1960: Nestlé buys German producer Jopa and French manufacturer Heudebert-Gervais as demand for ice cream grows.
  • 1968: Nestlé buys French yogurt producer Chambourcy.
  • 1969: Nestlé enters mineral waters by buying a stake in French water brand Vittel.
  • 1973: Nestlé takes over the US frozen foods company Stouffer Corporation.
  • 1974: Nestlé becomes a minority shareholder in L’Oreal
  • 1985: Nestlé acquires Carnation Company for USD 3 billion, adding brands like Carnation and Coffee-Mate to its portfolio, and entered the pet food business by buying the Friskies brand.
  • 1986: Nespresso officially launches.
  • 1988: The British confectionery company Rowntree Mackintosh was acquired in 1988 for $4.5 billion, which brought brands such as Kit Kat, Rolo, Smarties, and Aero.
  • 1991: Nestlé creates a joint venture with General Mills called Cereal Partners Worldwide to produce and market breakfast cereals globally.
  • 1991: Nestlé joins forces with The Coca-Cola Company to form Beverage Partners Worldwide.
  • 1992: Nestlé acquires France’s Perrier Group
  • 1994: Dissolution of Nestlé’s partnership with Coca-Cola.
  • 1998: Acquisition of San Pellegrino
  • 2001: Nestlé buys US pet food business Ralston Purina, merges it with Nestlé Friskies Petcare to become the new market leader
  • 2002: Nestlé acquires frozen foods business Chef America for USD 2.6 billion.
  • 2002: Nestlé acquires the licensing rights to premium ice cream Häagen-Dazs in the US. and Canada
  • 2003: Nestlé bought rights for the Mövenpick ice cream brand from the hotel Mövenpick hotel group.
  • 2006: Nestlé took full ownership of Dreyer’s, thus becoming the world’s largest ice cream maker.
  • 2007: Nestlé acquires Novartis Medical Nutrition, baby food company Gerber, and Sources Minérales Henniez, a mineral water business in Switzerland,
  • 2010: Nestlé enters the frozen-pizza market by purchasing Kraft Foods’ frozen pizza business in the U.S. and Canada for $3.7 billion
  • 2012: Nestlé acquires Wyeth Nutrition, formerly Pfizer Nutrition, for USD 11.9 billion to strengthen its position in infant nutrition.
  • 2014: Nestlé takes full control of the Galderma dermatology joint venture, which it developed with L’Oreal in 1981, and creates Nestlé Skin Health.
  • 2018: Nestlé acquired rights to market Starbucks products globally, outside of the company’s coffee shops
  • 2018: Nestlé acquires dog nutrition business Tails.com
  • 2019: Nestlé announced that they could not guarantee that their chocolate products were free from child slave labor
  • 2021: Nestlé reduces its stake in L’Oréal

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