5 ASX 200 shares with founders steering the ship

A smiling company executive in a board room with others.A smiling company executive in a board room with others.

When it comes to analysing ASX shares, one big tick for me is a founder-led business.

Founders are passionate, driven, hold a wealth of unrivalled knowledge, and often treat the business as their legacy or baby. 

Add to that what’s usually a sizeable amount of skin in the game and it’s often a recipe for success, with numerous studies showing that founder-led businesses tend to outperform the rest.

Earlier this week, I profiled three ASX 200 shares with enormous insider ownership. Only one of those companies is technically founder-led.

So, today, let’s take a look at five ASX 200 shares with founders sitting at the helm.

WiseTech Global Ltd (ASX: WTC)

Kicking things off, logistics software provider WiseTech continues to be led by its founder Richard White.

A former musician, White used to repair guitars for the likes of AC/DC and The Angels.

Then, in the 1990s, he ran a computer consulting business, and after doing some work for logistics companies, he realised how disjointed their systems were.

So, in 1994, with the help of WiseTech’s current chief technology officer, Brett Shearer, he created the first generation of the company’s flagship CargoWise One solution.

Today, CargoWise is a leading all-in-one logistics platform used by 10 of the top 25 global freight forwarders, including Toll and DHL.

White continues to head up the company as CEO and holds nearly 122 million WiseTech shares. This represents roughly 37% of the business, worth a whopping $6.7 billion at current prices.

White’s fellow co-founder, Maree Isaacs, is also still involved with the business. She’s currently the head of licensing and is an executive director on the board.

Pro Medicus Limited (ASX: PME)

Pro Medicus holds one of the greatest acquisition tales I’ve heard of. In the depths of the global financial crisis, it acquired US radiology imaging company Visage for around $5 million.

Three years later, Pro Medicus offloaded some unwanted pieces of the Visage business for $15 million. But that’s just the beginning.

What remained formed the backbone of Pro Medicus’ success, propelling the ASX 200 share to a market capitalisation that currently stands at $6 billion.

Driving this success have been co-founders Dr Sam Hupert and Anthony Hall. Hupert has long held the reins as CEO, while Hall heads up the company’s technology efforts and sits as an executive director on the board.

The pair hold roughly 27 million Pro Medicus shares each, representing a combined 52% of the business.

Block Inc CDI (ASX: SQ2)

Next up, we have a dual-listed payments giant led by none other than Jack Dorsey, the highest-profile founder so far.

Dorsey started the payments company in 2009, armed with an ambition to find an easy way for small businesses to accept card payments.

In what was then known as Square, the company created a square-shaped card reader that plugged straight into a smartphone’s headphone jack.

Today, Square forms one formidable half of the booming payments business, which also operates the uber-popular peer-to-peer payments platform Cash App.

Remarkably, Dorsey also co-founded Twitter in 2006 and led the social media platform until 2021. He remains the CEO of Block and owns around 8% of the ASX 200 tech share.

Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd (ASX: FLT)

The man behind Australia’s largest travel agency group is Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner, whose nickname comes from the Turner brand of screwdrivers. 

His entrepreneurial streak began in the 1970s when he and a friend bought a double-decker bus to start the tour group company now known as Topdeck Travel. 

In 1982, he opened the first Flight Centre retail store in Sydney, quickly expanding to nine stores by the end of that year. The brand spread its wings to London first before venturing into South Africa, Canada, and the US in the 1990s. 

Today, Flight Centre is one of the world’s largest travel agency groups, with many different brands under its banner. 

Turner continues to lead Flight Centre to this day, and it seems his entrepreneurial spirit rubbed off on his son, Matt. 

Matt followed his father into business by co-founding 99 Bikes, Australia’s largest bicycle retailer, which is 50%-owned by Flight Centre.

In terms of skin in the game, Turner holds around 8% of Flight Centre. This stake is currently worth $263 million, which is equivalent to roughly 390x his annual salary.

Mineral Resources Limited (ASX: MIN)

Finally, Mineral Resources came to life in 2006 through the acquisitions of three different mining businesses. 

Two of these businesses provided contracting services to the resources industry. Meanwhile, the other was a minerals processor and marketer of industrial minerals.

The man behind all three of these businesses was Chris Ellison, who took over the managing director reins in 2012 and has been leading Mineral Resources ever since. 

Today, Mineral Resources provides mining services to some of the world’s largest mining companies. 

But it’s no longer just a mining services company. It’s also growing its own portfolio of iron ore and lithium operations.

Mineral Resources is the fifth-largest iron ore producer in Australia. And it jointly owns two of the world’s largest hard rock lithium mines, Mt Marion and Wodgina.

Leading from the front, Ellison retains a 12% stake in Mineral Resources. This shareholding is currently valued at a monstrous $1.9 billion.

The post 5 ASX 200 shares with founders steering the ship appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia.

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Motley Fool contributor Cathryn Goh has positions in Block, Inc. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Block, Inc., Pro Medicus Ltd., and WiseTech Global. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended Block, Inc., Pro Medicus Ltd., and WiseTech Global. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Flight Centre Travel Group Limited. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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