Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Family business owner dies

The leader of the world's second-largest family business has died. King Fahd of Saudi Arabia died Monday in Riyadh, the headquarters of the House of Saud. King Fahd is survived by approximately 6,000 members of the royal family. A half-brother, Prince Abdullah, succeeded him as monarch and CEO.

Last fiscal year, Saudi Arabia was surpassed in gross revenue by another family-controlled concern, Wal-Mart ($285.2 billion for WMT, but only $284.9 billion for SA). The two companies may seem very different: Saudi Arabia specializes in one product, while Wal-Mart sells over 100,000 items; Ibn Saud's heirs control everything in their kingdom, but Sam Walton's heirs own about half the shares of theirs. But the similarities outweigh the differences. By way of promoting traditional, conservative values, both firms:
• vigilantly monitor immoral magazines like Cosmo and Redbook, while remaining tolerant of hate literature;
• stay close to the Bush family;
• prohibit unions;
• mistreat immigrants;
• discriminate against women.
If oil stays at $60 a barrel, Saudi Arabia will retake the lead, for a few years.

Fortunately for Fahd's heirs, there is no estate tax in Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately for those who would encourage hardworking entrepreneurs like the Sauds, the US Senate has delayed eliminating America's tax on large estates.


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