One of the world’s richest and most discreet families must decide what to do with a massive pile of cash.

The Van der Vorms, little known outside the Netherlands despite holdings that span the globe, will get as much as $4 billion this year from the sale of an eyewear retailer to Ray-Ban maker EssilorLuxottica SA. The money will go into the publicly traded Hal Trust, which the family controls.

“I’m very curious what Hal will do with the billions,” ABN Amro Bank NV’s Thijs Berkelder said. “Nobody from outside knows.” The family could return cash to shareholders, invest it or even close the fund and become full-time philanthropists, the Amsterdam-based analyst said.

The Van der Vorms have been in this position before. They made their fortune building Holland America Line, a transatlantic shipping firm sold in the 1980s to Carnival Plc for about $600 million. The family put the money to work within the investment firm, which bears the initials of Holland America Line.

Hal has since returned almost 2,000% and today spans timber, aviation and maritime holdings with assets of more than 11.3 billion euros ($12.5 billion). The family is worth about $11.2 billion based on the most recent filings for two holding companies it controls, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, though individual members may privately own other assets.

Bearer Shares
Despite being publicly traded, Hal’s inner workings are shrouded in secrecy.

The firm’s stock includes bearer shares, enabling owners to conceal their identities. Family members and other Hal Trust executives are referred to in filings by their initials only and eschew publicity. When a senior employee, Jaap van Wiechen, was invited to receive an award in Amsterdam four years ago he turned down the honor and didn’t attend the event.

“They always decline to answer even the most trivial questions and simply direct you to their website,” said KBC Securities analyst Joachim Vansanten. “It’s very rare these days to see a company as secretive as Hal.”

Martijn Van der Vorm, 61, the trust’s executive chairman until five years ago, lives in Monaco and prefers solo sailing to glitzy galas. His cousin, Carel Ole, 48, lives in London and operates an agricultural investment firm headquartered on a side street near tourist-packed Paddington Station.

Representatives for Hal Trust declined to comment, and attempts to reach Martijn and Carel Ole were unsuccessful. Hal Trust’s shares have climbed 4.4% this year and were little changed at 136.20 euros at 12:47 p.m. in Amsterdam.

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