A new generation is taking over European business dynasties, and the outcome for the continent's economy looks premising. Take Ernesto Bertarelli, for instance, scion of the Bertarelli clan that oversees Serono, a fertility drug company founded by Ernesto's grandfather. In his late 20s, Ernesto was working on his Harvard MBA when his father fell ill. When he returned to the Geneva-based company and took charge, the succession caused great concern, especially when the young CEO shifted the focus of the company from pharmaceuticals to biotechnology. As the profits rolled in, though, all doubts surely melted away. Serono is now the world’s third-largest biotech corporation, and the stake Ernesto, his mother, and his sister hold―some $8.4 billion―places the Bertarellis near the pinnacle of Europe’s wealthiest families. Ernesto is not unusual among the present generation of heirs to Europe's business dynasties. Many of them are more highly educated and more widely traveled than their parents, and though they are not founders of their families' fortunes, they are certainly moving them in new directions. The new guard of Italy's Barilla clan―famous for its pasta-has not only built a factory in America in order to break into the huge pasta market there, but has also bought a large bread company in Germany. Europe's family business empires exert a great deal of influence on the continent's economy due to family tradition and the relative scarcity of public share-holding. In fact, roughly 85% of all businesses in the European Union are family owned. Families also have controlling interests in many of Europe's biggest corporations, including L’oreal and BMW. Studies show that money and power stay in family clans more than in the U.S.: one study of the super rich, for example, showed that 21% of the American wealthy had inherited their money, compared with 37% of the Europeans. Although family-owned businesses tend to be tightly controlled and secretive, they have nevertheless had a positive effect on the Europe economy. Heirs often take a long-term perspective, producing high-quality products and maintaining a positive relationship with the buying public.