In much of the developing world, families represent the dominant form of firm ownership. This study investigates how this influences equity ownership strategies when firms venture abroad. Drawing on agency theory and institutional theory, we investigate the direct effect of board composition and family ownership on the equity-based ownership strategies of multinational enterprises (MNEs) in their affiliates, and how institutional distance may moderate this. Examining foreign affiliates of listed Turkish MNEs, we find that a high ratio of independent directors is negatively linked to levels of equity ownership of MNE affiliates. We also find that a high ratio of inside directors on the board is positively associated with the equity stake of MNEs in their affiliates. The significant interaction effect between board composition, family ownership and institutional distance helps explain the unexpectedly weak effects of institutional distance.