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The Austrian Private Foundation

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Niklas Schmidt e Eva Stadler | Wolf Theiss

1. The creation of private foundations in Austria

Since the Austrian Act on Private Foundations has come into force in 1993 (over 25 years ago), private foundations (Privatstiftungen) may be established in Austria. Originally, the intent of the legislator was to offer an Austrian wealth management vehicle and to thereby prevent capital from being moved to foreign structures, notably to foundations established in nearby Liechtenstein.

Currently there exist over 3,000 private foundations in Austria, with an estimated total wealth of approx. EUR 70 billion (64% of which is held through companies and 24% through real estate).

80 of Austria's 100 largest companies are being controlled by private foundations, with a total of around 400,000 jobs indirectly depending on private foundations. Most private foundations were founded in the year 2000 (approx. 800); since then the number of private foundations being established has decreased.

Most wealthy Austrian families have set up private foundations. The list of the largest private foundations in Austria is almost identical to the list of the richest Austrians.