We analyze the ultimate ownership and control of 5,232 corporations in 13 Western European countries. Typically firms are widely held (36.93%) or family controlled (44.29%). Widely held firms are more important in the UK and Ireland, family controlled firms in continental Europe. Financial and large firms are more likely widely held, while non-financial and small firms are more likely family controlled. State control is important for larger firms in certain countries. Dual class shares and pyramids enhance the control of the largest shareholders, but overall there are significant discrepancies between ownership and control in only a few countries. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.