JPMorgan Chase was investigated by US federal authorities after the global mega bank was alleged over hiring the children of Chinese officials to help the bank win profitable business in the Asian country. The allegations were reported by the New York Times, which cited a confidential US document. Among other things, the bank was reported to have brought on Tang Xiaoning, son of Tang Shuangning (pictured), chairman of the China Everbright Group – a conglomerate controlled by the Chinese government. Shortly after Shuangning joined JPMorgan, the bank scored multiple ‘coveted’ assignments from Everbright, according to the New York Times. According to the New York Times “Global companies also routinely hire the sons and daughters of leading Chinese politicians”. Surprisingly, JPMorgan hired the children of officials of state-controlled companies. The investigation into whether these hirings helped the bank win lucrative business from Chinese state-controlled companies is ongoing
Multi-millionaire co-founder and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine Jann Wenner raised eyebrows earlier this year when he appointed his 22-year-old son, Gus Wenner, head of Rollingstone.com. The junior Wenner, a new graduate of Brown University, was charged with heading all aspects of the dot-com business after having worked for the site for just ‘six or seven’ months, according to an Adweek story. Before that, his biggest claim to fame was his role in his collegiate alt-country band. Perhaps the elder Wenner’s decision to give his son so much power was based less on nepotism and more on experience: Jann Wenner was only 21 years old when he founded Rolling Stone — and not even a college graduate, at that time.
Multi-millionaire real estate tycoon Donald Trump has never been reserved about affording special privilege to his children. At 31, his daughter Ivanka Trump is a celebrity in her own right, with a successful modeling career and a range of jewelry, handbags, footwear and outerwear that follow in the vein of her father’s unapologetically over-the-top style. Ivanka has been forthright about her privileged upbringing. “Of course, nepotism got me in the door. It would be silly to say otherwise” she admitted at an ABC News interview. She added that “But if I was not performing in a way that was satisfactory… I could not stay within the organisation”. Although Ivanka is the most high-profile Trump child, her brothers - Donald Jr, and Eric - work in the privately-held Trump Organization; Donald Jr. as executive vice president and Eric as executive vice president of development and acquisition.
The head of the News Corp conglomerate is no stranger to accusations of uncontrolled nepotism. He’s been utterly criticised by investors for his decision to assign his sons Lachan, as deputy chief operating officer of News Corp and James, as CEO of British Sky Broadcasting Group, which is partially owned by News Corp. Investors say these appointments at News Corp-owned posts, have damaged the company. Murdoch expert and author Neil Chenoweth told Bloomberg that “[investors] believe in the father, but not the sons. It’s not going to work once Rupert’s not there”. But the media giant says he isn’t concerned about leaving the News Corp legacy in his son’s hands. It seems that he plans to live forever, or almost forever; Murdoch has told reporters he has “no plans to retire,” and hopes to live to 120 — “but certainly 100”.
James H McGraw established McGraw Hill as a small publishing company in 1888. Later, in 1993, his great-grandson Harold “Terry” McGraw Hill became president of the company. There were initial doubts about Terry McGraw’s ability to lead. According to a 2005 New York Times article, “many thought Mr McGraw… was yet another heir who had lucked into a job he could not handle”. The company’s Standard & Poor’s ratings unit is the subject of a $5 billion federal lawsuit over its favourable ratings of complex securities whose collapse helped fuel the financial crisis. In 2009, McGraw was forced to sell the company’s esteemed business magazine, BusinessWeek, to Bloomberg LP for under $5 million. Two years ago, Terry McGraw was decided to be split the company in two, decoupling its less-profitable education unit from its other holdings, including S&P and JD Power & Associates. The next CEO for the company will be Douglas Peterson, President of Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services.
Welcome to the realm of nepotism where leaders, reluctant to give power to an unknown outsider, hand the reins to someone in the family tree. Granted, kin may have a top-tier education and experience in the business, but it’s often hard to know whether there might be someone better for the job.
Though nepotism is often viewed unfavourably in modern-day business, the practice is far from outdated. A more subtle form of nepotism, hiring the children of the rich or well-connected — ostensibly to win business or favor is also popular across industries. The latest public example: authorities in the United States are looking into whether JPMorgan Chase & Co hired the offspring of officials in China to give their business a boost.
From banking giants to global media powerhouses, the following slideshow will look at some of the most public examples of nepotism — or at least keeping plum posts in the family — in business.