Tag: David Grissom

Documents reveal a legal latticework shielding the Brown family’s $6 billion whiskey fortune

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

When Brown-Forman stockholders gathered in July at the whiskey giant’s Georgian Revival headquarters west of downtown, the outcome of a crucial vote — re-electing 12 directors to the governing board — was anything but a surprise.

This has been the founding Brown family’s company for nearly 150 years. Six of the directors were Browns, including board Chairman George Garvin Brown IV — a great-great grandson of the founder — and the rest were unquestionably family loyalists.

Stockholders outside the family knew what Brown-Forman has disclosed for years in an annual statement soliciting their votes: 13 individual Browns and family groups hold 67% of all the voting shares in “a variety of family trusts and entities, with multiple family members often sharing voting control and investment power.”

Much less has been known about the scope of those entities, leaving more than 5,600 other stockholders in the dark about exactly how the Browns divvy up nearly $6 billion in shares among a core group of relatives.

George Garvin Brown
Founder Brown.

But now, documents filed by the Browns with the Securities and Exchange Commission detail how complex their ownership has grown since the pharmaceuticals salesman George Garvin Brown founded the company in 1870. They shed light on how the Browns have deployed extensive trust accounts, business partnerships, and other legal vehicles to pass down Brown-Forman stock through six generations. That’s an exceptional legacy in American business: Just 12% of family-owned companies survive into the third generation, and a slim 3% survive to the fourth and beyond.

The documents also point to a network of boutique consulting firms and other white-shoe professionals advising the city’s wealthiest families on everything from investments to taxes and charitable giving, hiring housekeepers and gardeners — even organizing vacation travel and family gatherings. Paid tens of thousands of dollars a year in fees, the firms are the backbone of a larger, multibillion-dollar economy serving the area’s uber-rich.

george-garvin-brown-to-laura-frazier-contact-sheet-450
Clockwise from top left: Garvin Brown IV, Campbell Brown, Christy Brown, Laura Frazier, Sandra Frazier and Mac Brown.

The documents were filed over the past 18 months by Continue reading “Documents reveal a legal latticework shielding the Brown family’s $6 billion whiskey fortune”

Bevin appoints Brown-Forman, Glenview Trust, other big-money heavy-hitters to new UofL board; Schnatter and Frazier raise profiles

A news summary, focused on 10 big employers; updated 10:42 p.m.

Matt Bevin
Bevin

Tightening his grip on the University of Louisville, Gov. Matt Bevin today added 10 more members to his reconfigured board of trustees, appointing a slew of business heavy hitters, including at least one with long family ties to the board.

Among them: Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter; Glenview Trust Co. founder and chairman David Grissom, who’s also a retired Humana executive; and Brown-Forman heiress Sandra Frazier.

Schnatter is a major UofL booster, donating millions for naming rights to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. He and conservative industrialist Charles Koch donated $6.3 million to the school in March 2015 to establish an on-campus center to study the virtues of free enterprise; responding to criticism, the university said the money wouldn’t curtail academic freedom.

Sandra Frazier
Frazier

Frazier, who is now cycling off the Brown-Forman board of directors, also is a director of Glenview Trust, a boutique investment firm that serves more than 500 of the area’s wealthiest families. Her late father, Harry Frazier, is a former UofL vice chairman, and her uncle, the late Owsley Brown Frazier, was once chairman.

Two other Bevin appointees are private equity and venture capitalists, according to The Courier-Journal: Dale Boden, now a partner with Weller Equity; and Douglas Cobb, who co-founded Chrysalis Ventures with David A. Jones Jr., a Humana director. Jones’ father, David Sr., co-founded Humana and is also a Glenview Trust director. The 10-member Glenview board comprises some of Louisville’s  biggest power brokers.

Here’s Bevin’s order, with the full list of appointees and their terms.

Bevin’s announcement today follows his surprise June 17 dismissal of the previous 20-seat board, which he called “dysfunctional” in its oversight of the university and President James Ramsey. He replaced them with an interim three-member board, which he filled out with today’s appointments. The school has been roiled with controversy over Ramsey’s seven-figure compensation; a sex scandal involving the marquee men’s basketball program, plus other administrative missteps. Ramsey offered to resign when Bevin dissolved the board, but a final decision on his future was deferred to the next board.

In other news: Continue reading “Bevin appoints Brown-Forman, Glenview Trust, other big-money heavy-hitters to new UofL board; Schnatter and Frazier raise profiles”

In Glenview Trust Co.’s board, a portrait of many lives enriched

Discretion is everything in the wealth management world. That’s why the court challenge around the Glenview Trust Co.‘s launch 15 years ago grabbed such unwelcome headlines — before it got settled, of course, for $525,000. That controversial start apparently didn’t dent eventual success at the firm, which is akin to a large family office. Its motto: “enriching life.”

Today, Glenview — named for the posh community where the company is located east of Louisville — says it’s the commonwealth’s biggest independent trust company, working exclusively for individual investors. Glenview now represents more than 500 wealthy families, with a combined $6.5 billion in assets.

Its pitch: “Glenview Trust is a local, closely-held company with employee ownership, our professionals act and think differently. We are not accountable to a headquarters in a distant city, which allows us to effectively and efficiently accommodate our clients’ unique situations.”

Glenview has 40 employees, including nine attorneys. How much does it earn servicing those 500-plus families? That’s hard to estimate without knowing the firm’s fee schedule. Industrywide, fees vary widely, often stair-stepping down as account values rise. But applying a relatively low 0.5%, that would generate $33 million a year.