Who Owns Starbucks: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Article Teaser: Who Owns Starbucks: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) is a worldwide coffee-house chain. It makes money mostly by selling coffee-based beverages. Roughly half of its stores are licensed to third-party operators. But who owns Starbucks, and who controls it?

The largest shareholder of Starbucks is Vanguard, an asset manager, which owns a 9% ownership stake, followed by BlackRock (7%), another large asset manager. A notable shareholder is the company founder and long-time CEO Howard Schultz, who owns 2% of Starbucks.

 Starbucks's Largest Shareholders (Dec 2021)
Shareholder Ownership Voting Power
Vanguard 8.5% 8.5%
BlackRock 7.1% 7.1%
Howard Schultz 1.9% 1.9%
Other 82.4% 82.4%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

Starbucks largest shareholders by share ownership and vote control (donut chart) Starbucks largest shareholders by share ownership and vote control (donut chart)

Vanguard and BlackRock are the two largest shareholders of Starbucks. It is not a big surprise since they are the largest asset managers worldwide. It is pretty common that they are the top two shareholders in large public companies.

More notable Starbucks shareholder is the company’s largest individual shareholder Howard Schultz. He is the company’s founder and has been its on-and-off CEO for decades. Currently, he owns 2% of the company.

  • The oldest official readily available SEC filing states that Schultz’s states that Schultz stake at the end of 1996 was 4.3%.
  • However, that reported 4.3% number included a significant amount of options exercisable within 60 days. Without those options, Schultz’s ownership at the time was 2.5%. Similar to his current stake.

Schultz founded a company in 1985, and it went public in 1992.

In this article, I will dive more into who Starbucks’s largest shareholders are, how many shares and votes they have, and how much their stake is worth. I will also explore some other topics related to its ownership structure.

If you are interested, you can also explore who owns other companies like Coca-cola, Meta, Twitter, or Roblox.

🕹️ Who Owns Starbucks (SBUX) and Who Has Control?

The chart below depicts both who owns Starbucks and the voting power of different shareholders. Since Starbucks does not have any special classes of shares, and all shares have just one vote, you can see that ownership share equals voting power.

Starbucks largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Starbucks has only one class of shares, which means that all shareholders have the same rights, and each share has only one vote.

Ownership of Starbucks is quite disbursed, and no one has clear control over it. The main shareholders are asset managers investing money in the name of other investors.

In this situation, company founder and currently also temporary CEO Howard Schulz can project significant influence ever the company, even thous his stake is not substantial.

  • He currently serves as temporary CEO, and it was already announced that he would leave in April 2023, and hand CEO post over to Laxman Narasimhan.
  • Schultz had already left the Starbucks CEO post several times, only to come back when Starbucks faced some challenges. However, he announces that he is not going back this time. So we will see.

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

Starbucks Corporation had a total of 1,155 million outstanding shares as of December 2021. The following table shows how many shares each Starbucks’s large shareholder holds.

 Starbucks's Outstanding Shares by Shareholder
In millions of shares as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Vanguard 99 99 8.5%
BlackRock 82 82 7.1%
Howard Schultz 22 22 1.9%
Other 952 952 82.4%
Total (# millions) 1,155 1,155 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

There were 1,155 million votes distributed among shareholders of Starbucks Corporation. The table below shows the total number of votes for each large shareholder.

 Starbucks's Vote Control by Shareholder
In millions of votes as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Vanguard 99 99 8.5%
BlackRock 82 82 7.1%
Howard Schultz 22 22 1.9%
Other 952 952 82.4%
Total (# millions) 1,155 1,155 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

You can see that there is no difference between shares and votes, since Starbucks has only a single class of shares.

💵 Breakdown of Starbucks’s Market Value by Shareholder

The following table summarizes how much is each shareholder’s stake in Starbucks Corporation worth.

However, keep in mind that a stake in Starbucks 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.

 Starbucks's Market Value by Shareholder
Market value in billions $ as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Vanguard $12 $12 8.5%
BlackRock $10 $10 7.1%
Howard Schultz $3 $3 1.9%
Other $111 $111 82.4%
Total ($ billions) $135 $135 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC fillings

Let’s now look at each Starbucks shareholder individually.

📒 Who Are the Largest Shareholders of Starbucks Corporation

Let’s now go through the list of the largest shareholders of Starbucks Corporation 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 Starbucks worth.

#1 Vanguard

Vanguard holds 9% of Starbucks’s shares making it its largest shareholder.

Starbucks largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Vanguard owns 99 million Starbucks shares, representing 99 million shareholder votes. The market value of Vanguard’s stake in Starbucks was $12 billion as of December 2021.

Vanguard (The Vanguard Group) is one of the largest asset managers in the world. It manages other people’s money through its mutual funds and exchange-traded funds and also offers other related investing and financial planning services.

Vanguard differs from other large asset managers by having no actual “owner .” Officially Vanguard says that its investors own it since its funds own it, and Vanguard fund investors own those funds.

However, the actual decision power is in the hands of Vanguard’s insiders since the ownership is diluted over millions of investors worldwide.

Vanguard has significant influence over the largest public companies. Thanks to its size, Vanguard usually belongs to the largest shareholders in those companies and has considerable power at their shareholder meetings. This is especially true if ownership is diluted.

Vanguard representatives make the calls about which shareholder proposal to support or not, even though Vanguard is not the ultimate owner of those stocks and they belong to their clients.

It means that just a few people in charge of the largest asset managers have significant sway over many publicly traded companies. They are usually the median investors that can push or kill many proposals. As passive investing became more popular and the asset management market more concentrated, this became quite a concerning issue.

  • Several terms were coined to describe this issue. Some call it asset manager capitalism, and popular is also the power of twelve. Financial Times even put together who exactly those twelve people might be.

  • Vanguard and other large fund managers are trying to address those concerns by having public policies describing how they are exercising their voting power. But as you can imagine, this is still a situation full of conflicts of interest.
  • Evidence shows that big asset managers usually vote together with management.

#2 BlackRock

BlackRock holds 7% of Starbucks’s shares which makes it its second-largest shareholder.

Starbucks largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

BlackRock owns 82 million Starbucks shares, representing 82 million shareholder votes. The market value of BlackRock’s stake in Starbucks was $10 billion as of December 2021.

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.

  • BlackRock and other large asset managers do not invest their own money, but they have significant voting power that, in most cases, is not passed through to the underlying investors. Therefore, BlackRock itself and its representatives have significant sway over decisions in those companies.

  • 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 in the FED and US government.

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

  • Recently, large asset managers started to be more sympathetic to different climate and environmental-related proposals and even supported activists that went against the management’s wishes. BlackRock was particularly aggressive in this change. Another proof of the power these companies have.

#3 Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz holds 2% of Starbucks’s shares which makes him its largest individual shareholder.

Starbucks largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Howard Schultz owns 22 million Starbucks shares, representing 22 million shareholder votes. The market value of Howard Schultz’s stake in Starbucks was $3 billion as of December 2021.

Howard Shultz is the founder and long-time CEO of Starbucks Corporation. He also wrote several books and contemplated candidacy for U.S. president several times.

Howard Schultz’s name is closely connected with Starbucks, the company he founded and grew from one coffee shop to a worldwide giant with 35 000 shops.

Currently, he serves as an interim CEO of Starbucks but plans to leave in April 2023.

❔ Did Howard Schultz Founded Starbucks?

There is some confusion if Howard Schultz founded Starbucks or not. And the answer depends on what Starbucks we are talking about.

Howard Schulz is the founder of Starbucks Corporation as we know it now. A company that he grew from one coffee shop to a global coffee-house empire. But that company was not called Starbucks when it was founded in 1985.

But if we are talking about the original Starbucks company whose brand and name Schultz acquired in 1987, then Schulz is not a founder.

  • This Starbucks company was founded in 1971 by business partners Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker. Howard Schultz was not involved at the time, although the company hired him as director of retail operations and marketing in 1982 before he set up his own company.
  • But this “original” Starbucks was a tiny outlet selling coffee beans and some equipment, not drinks.

❔ Is Starbucks owned by Tata Group?

If you encounter a Starbucks coffeehouse in India, you will notice that it usually has under or next to its name, “A Tata Alliance.” Why is that? Does Tata Group own Starbucks?

In India, Starbucks shops are operated by Tata Starbucks, which is a 50:50 joint venture between Tata Group and Starbucks Corporation. It has operated licensed Starbucks stores in India since 2012.

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