Walton Family Members Give Away $407M in Shares


Walton Family Members Give Away $407M in Shares
Jim, Rob and Alice Walton at the 2015 Wal-Mart annual meeting in Fayetteville. (Ryan A. Miller)

Sam Walton's three surviving children have given about $407 million worth of stock in Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to a nonprofit organization founded by their family.

Siblings Alice, Rob and Jim Walton donated a combined 6.7 million shares of the Bentonville-based retail giant to the Walton Family Holdings Trust, according to filings made Dec. 28 with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.

The filings show Alice Walton, founder of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, gave away 3.7 million shares, worth about $225 million based on the stock's Dec. 28 closing price of $60.74. 

Her brothers Rob Walton, the retailer's former chairman, and Jim Walton, chairman of Arvest Bank Group of Bentonville, each gave away 1.5 million shares, worth about $182 million.

The stock giveaway is part of the family's plan, announced in April, to "offset possible further increases in its ownership percentage and to help fund charitable contributions." The plan was announced after the family's stake in the retailer, owned by Walton Enterprises LLC, increased to more than 50 percent as a result of the company's stock buy-back initiatives.

"Given the prospect that Walmart may continue to buy back shares, the Walton family has informed Walmart that it currently expects to sell Walmart shares from time to time …," the family said in April.

Wal-Mart stock hit its all-time high in 2015, closing just above $90 one week into the year and pushing the value of the Walton family’s combined stock holdings close to $150 billion. But as the year came to an end, shared had tumbled as the retailer lowered its earnings forecast for the coming fiscal year.

Still, the Walton family ranked No. 1 on Arkansas Business' most recent list of the state's largest stockholders, with $96.7 billion in Wal-Mart stock alone as of Dec. 4. For the purposes of the list, the Walton family is made up of Alice, Jim and Rob Walton; the estates of Helen R. Walton, Sam's widow, and John T. Walton, their son who died in 2005; Gregory B. Penner, Rob Walton's son-in-law; and related entities, including Madrone Partners.