Walton family fortune increases US$3.3 billion on Walmart earnings

A shopper counts banknotes at a Walmart store in Monterrey, Mexico. (Reuters pic)

NEW YORK: Walmart’s best holiday quarter in a decade meant a US$3.3 billion gain Tuesday in the Walton family fortune.

Shares of the world’s largest retailer rose 2.2% after it reported fourth-quarter results, pushing the wealth of the founder’s family to US$175.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

It’s increased more than US$14 billion since the first of the year.

The bump to the world’s richest family’s net worth comes as some politicians, including Senator Bernie Sanders, are calling for checks on such enormous fortunes.

Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist who announced Tuesday he’s making another run for president as a Democrat, criticised the family’s wealth in a tweet earlier this month.

“The Walton family makes more money in one minute than Walmart workers do in an entire year,” the Feb 14 tweet read. “This is what we mean when we talk about a rigged economy.”

The bulk of the family fortune – about 1.5 billion Walmart shares – is controlled through two holding companies, which are mostly owned by Rob, Jim and Alice Walton, the children of co-founder Sam Walton.

The siblings have a combined net worth of about US$141.5 billion after gaining US$2.6 billion Tuesday. Other heirs, including Lukas and Christy Walton, Nancy Walton Laurie and Ann Walton Kroenke, gained a combined US$676.9 million.

A spokesman for the family didn’t immediately respond to a request for a comment.