Some of the world’s best-known family businesses, from Heineken in the Netherlands to American Greetings, are in the limelight for expansion plans and for keeping ownership of companies within the family.
The family behind cards-maker American Greetings said on 26 September that it wants to buy the shares in the company it doesn’t already own.
Chief executive Zev Weiss and his brother Jeffrey Weiss – who is president and chief operating officer – are offering $580 million (€451 million) at $17.18 per share, said a letter by the family members.
Founded in 1906 by Jacob Sapirstein, the business went public in the late 1950s. Sapirstein’s descendants, through family foundations and trusts, own 94% of class B voting shares.
Meanwhile, the family that owns Yates Petroleum is reportedly looking for a buyer for the oil producer. According to reports, quoting people familiar with the matter, the Yates family wants to sell its stake before the end of the year.
The group, which is the largest privately owned oil producer in the US, traces its roots to the 1920s when Martin Yates pioneered oil exploration in New Mexico. The group is now owned and run by the third generation.
In Europe, brewing giant Heineken, controlled by fourth-gen Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, has increased its holding in Asia Pacific Breweries by buying Kindest Place Group's 8.6% stake.
The move comes a few days after Heineken, the world’s third-largest brewer by volume, came a step closer to winning control of APB. Rival bidder Thai Beverage said it will support the sale of Singapore conglomerate Fraser and Neave’s stake in APB to Heineken.
In neighbouring Germany, family-owned Schaeffler, which makes industrial bearings, sold a 10.4% stake in Continental.
The sale is to reduce debt Schaeffler had accumulated during its failed takeover attempt of the car-parts supplier in 2008. The bid left Schaeffler with debts of more than €10 billion.
By selling a part of its stake, the family group has cut its liability by about 30%, the company said in a statement.
As the automobile sector takes a hit due to the global downturn, one French family-controlled carmaker is looking at new ways to get better returns by investing in nursing homes.
Peugeot Citroen has bought a 7% stake in Orpea, which runs nursing homes, as part of its diversification strategy. It also said last week that it has sold a 75% stake in Gefco, a transport firm, for €800 million.
In South Africa, speculation is rife that the Ackerman family, which controls supermarket chain Pick n Pay, is looking to sell some of its shares in the company. Media reports said the family was in talks with Dutch retail giant Ahold.
But family member and current chair Raymond Ackerman said the family is not considering selling its shares. “There is absolutely no deal on the table,” he reportedly said.
Meanwhile, Carlos Slim, through his investment vehicle America Movil, has upped its stake in Telekom Austria. Slim bought the 16% stake held by investor Ronny Pecik, to take his family’s holding to almost 23%.