This article directly stems from the research process for our European single family office database. Our list of the 700 largest family offices in Europe includes the most important family investment vehicles that invest in various areas, such as financial markets, real estate, venture capital, private equity, and renewables.
Eric comes from a wealthy Belgian family who built up their wealth through the sugar company Tiense Suicker. As of September 2022, Wittouck has an estimated net worth of $9bn. Eric has expanded his wealth through New York private equity firm, Invus. Invus is managed by Ray Debbane and with his help, Wittouck has drastically improved his wealth due to successful investments in Blue Buffalo Pet Products and Weight Watchers.
New-York based family office firm to thank for huge returns
The family-owned sugar company Tiense Sucker was sold in 1993 and in the years leading up to the sale, Ray Debbane was contacted to streamline the company’s production process as well as investing the family’s wealth in the US through investment advisory firm, Invus. Debbane’s approach to managing Wittouck capital was unique, as the cash was kept in liquid investments, not with the partners. Debbane had huge success through acquisitions of Polaner and Keebler, the latter returning $1.02bn over two years with a 207.7% IRR. However, in the late 1990s two cousins of Eric, Frantz and Paul backed out of the firm meaning Eric was left alone and he then decided to place his full trust in Debbane. Faith in Debbane paid dividends as the capital grew 27 times over through large-scale returns via Weight Watchers and Blue Buffalo. Since then, Invus has entered the biomedical market with an $18m investment in Cyclerion Therapeutics.
Picture source: Mae Mu