S.C. Johnson debuts new ads
S.C. Johnson & Son, new TV and online ads, scheduled to debut on Thanksgiving Day, will "convey to customers a commitment to disclose the ingredients of its familiar household cleaning products," the New York Times reported. The information is also "being phased in on labels" and will appear on the company's website, the article said.
The disclosure "is being presented as part of the ‘family company' campaign," according to the report. Chairman and CEO H. Fisk John III told the Times:
"With our family name on products and our family name on the company, your family reputation is at stake."
In addition, according to the report, S.C. Johnson will start to run its ads stressing its status as a family-owned company outside the U.S. (Source: New York Times, Nov. 23, 2010.)
Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2010 • Permalink
Columbia Sportswear matriarch foils robbery, kidnapping attempt
Gert Boyle, the chairwoman of Columbia Sportswear and star of the company's ads that portray her as "One Tough Mother," foiled an attempted robbery and kidnapping at her home. According to a report on the AOL Small Business website:
The 86-year-old Boyle reportedly pulled into her driveway in West Linn, Ore., on [Nov. 10] when a man posing as a delivery man approached her, pulled out a gun and ordered her inside the house. Boyle had to turn off the alarm to enter, and while doing so, tripped a silent panic button that alerted local police of the intrusion.
The AOL Small Business article said that when police came to Boyle's house, they found her hands bound. Several hours later, police found a man carrying jewelry belonging to Boyle.
Sgt. Neil Hennelly said Boyle noticed that the burglar was wearing a rival North Face jacket and asked her how she was doing after the incident. Ever the dedicated entrepreneur, Boyle reportedly responded, "I was doing fine until that jacket walked through the door."
The Oregonian reported that three Honduran men were being held on charges including burglary, robbery, coercion, assault and kidnapping; their immigration status was being investigated. One of the men told investigators that they had plotted to kidnap Boyle for a $20,000 ransom, The Oregonian article said.
A law-enforcement source familiar with the investigation said the kidnap plot appears to be "part of a larger conspiracy" extending beyond the three suspects now in custody.
The Oregonian report noted that Boyle "was treated like a rock star" when she arrived at the Clackamas County Courthouse to testify before the grand jury.
Boyle returned to work two days after the robbery, The Oregonian article said. (Sources: AOL Small Business, Nov. 14, 2010; The Oregonian, Nov. 16, 2010.)
Posted Monday, November 22, 2010 • Permalink
Johnson Publishing sells its Chicago HQ
Johnson Publishing Co., the publisher of Ebony and Jet, has sold its headquarters on Chicago's Michigan Avenue, where it had been based for 40 years, to Columbia College Chicago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Johnson Publishing plans to leas the building for 11 months and then move to a new Chicago location, according to the article, which cited sources who said the building was sold for about $8 million.
In that case, a main creditor of Johnson Publishing may have sustained a loss. In 2009, Johnson Publishing had trouble paying its printing bill to R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., so Donnelley took out mortgages for about $12 million on the Johnson-owned properties. Also, several contractors filed liens on the properties because of unpaid bills. Many of those were released in August, according to Cook County records.
A Johnson Publishing spokesman told the Sun-Times that all debts on the properties had been satisfied.
During the heyday of Ebony and Jet, the building became a centerpiece for black culture and trends, and a destination for celebrities and politicians seeking to align themselves with the Johnson family.
Johnson Publishing, which once had more than 1,000 workers, now employs 200 people, 125 of them in Chicago, the Sun-Times article said. (Source: Chicago Sun-Times, Nov. 17, 2010.)
Posted Thursday, November 18, 2010 • Permalink
Cablevision exploring a spinoff of its TV channels
Cablevision Systems Corp. is exploring a spinoff of its rainbow unit, which includes cable channels Sundance, IFC and AMC, according to a Bloomberg News report. Rainbow would be spun off to Cablevision's shareholders as a "tax-free pro rata distribution," the article said.
The split would let Chief Executive Officer Jim Dolan focus on the company's cable operation..... The move contrasts with larger cable carrier Comcast Corp., which is buying control of NBC Universal to add media assets.
The Dolan family "is opting to break the company into pieces after trying to take it private at least three times," the Bloomberg report says. Cablevision, which spun off its Madison Square Garden unit earlier this year, said it does not plan to sell Rainbow or its cable and telecommunications business, according to the Bloomberg report.
The spinoff of the Rainbow unit would leave Cablevision with mainly cable assets, as well as Newsday, the daily newspaper that makes up less than 5 percent of its sales.
(Source: Bloomberg, Nov. 18, 2010.)
Posted Thursday, November 18, 2010 • Permalink
Koss embezzler sentenced to 11 years
Sujata Sachdeva has been sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for embezzling from her former employer, Koss Corp. the Business Journal of Milwaukee reported. She pleaded guilty in July to six counts of wire fraud and was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman, who also ordered her to pay restitution of $34 million, which was the amount she embezzled.
She apologized to Michael Koss -- who was in the courtroom and made his own statement to Adelman -- Koss Corp. employees, Koss shareholders, her family and friends.
(Source: Business Journal of Milwaukee, Nov. 17, 2010.)
Posted Thursday, November 18, 2010 • Permalink
Glazers will pay off Manchester United loans early
The Glazer family is "on the verge" of clearing £220 million ($348 million) in high-interest loans on their Manchester United soccer club seven years ahead of the maturity date, the Financial Times reported.
The Glazer family's holding company, Red Football Joint Venture, will pay the so-called payment-in-kind [PIK] loan to the investors, including hedge funds, on November 22, and will do so out of private funds rather than club assets.
The family also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL team. According to the FT report:
The payment removes an increasingly onerous burden on the family, which has faced hostility from fans since buying the English Premier League football club in 2005 on a highly leveraged deal....
The FT article said that in the family's January 2010 refinancing of a bank loan with a £526 million bond offer, the terms allowed them to withdraw £70 million from the club to pay off the PIK loan.
The PIK loan was taken out in 2006, a year after the family bought the club, and the interest charge rose from 14.25 per cent earlier this year after the club breached agreements relating to the size of debt compared to earnings. The family will hope that the removal of the PIK loan gives them breathing space, as the club looks to compete on a sustainable basis. But the refusal of the family to engage with the fans and explain their financing strategy means their PIK loan move will meet with little to no approval from supporters.
(Source: Financial Times, Nov. 17, 2010.)
Posted Wednesday, November 17, 2010 • Permalink
Family feud ends at Hyundai
Creditors of Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. chose the "underdog bidder," Hyundai Group, to buy a 35% controlling stake in the company valued at about $2.6 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported. Hyundai Group was selected over Hyundai Motor Group, the report noted. The decision ends a "takeover battle and family feud," the article said.
If the deal goes through, it likely will make permanent the 1990s breakup of the Hyundai empire and underscore that South Korea's conglomerate era -- in which huge collections of companies could be controlled by families with minority shareholdings -- is nearing an end.... Second generations of founding families have generally been forced to reduce their stakes and control by the need to raise capital from other investors, though some have resorted to extraordinary attempts to preserve family control.
According to the report, Hyundai Group offered "just over $5 billion" for Hyundai Engineering & Construction (E&C), while Hyundai Motor offered "just over $4 billion." If Hyundai Group had lost, the Journal article explained, it would have been susceptible to a takeover by Hyundai Motor because E&C owns a stake in Hyundai Merchant Marine, which is Hyundai Group's largest affiliate.
E&C is the original company in the Hyundai empire, started by businessman Chung Ju-yung in 1947. It ran into financial difficulties in the mid-1990s and was taken over by creditors. Its trouble foreshadowed the troubles of the broader Hyundai empire of around 50 companies that was broken into three smaller conglomerates, Group, Motor and Hyundai Heavy Industries, before Mr. Chung's death in 2001.
(Source: Wall Street Journal, Nov. 16, 2010.)
Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2010 • Permalink
Forbes family ends control over company’s daily operations
Former venture capital executive Mike Perlis has been named president and CEO at Forbes Media, according to a report in Folio, an industry trade publication. The Folio report noted:
Perlis' appointment effectively ends the Forbes family's control over the company's day-to-day operations.
Former chief executive Steve Forbes is chairman of the company. His brother, former COO Tim Forbes, will remain chairman of Forbes Digital and a member of the board of Forbes Media. (Source: Folio, Nov. 15, 2010.)
Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2010 • Permalink
Porsche family sells sales unit to VW
The family shareholders of Porsche SE exercised an option to sell their Austria-based car sales unit to Volkswagen AG for 3.3 billion euros ($4.55 billion), the Wall Street Journal reported.
The sale is part of the deal to merge Porsche and VW, the Journal report noted.
The planned sale of Porsche Holding Salzburg mbH, a European car distributor separately owned by the Piech and Porsche clans, was included as part of the multi-step merger agreement signed last year. The families plan to use the bulk of the proceeds from the sale to help finance a 5 billion euro capital increase aimed at reducing Porsche's debt before Volkswagen completes its takeover of the sports-car maker.
(Source: Wall Street Journal, Nov. 11, 2010.)
Posted Thursday, November 11, 2010 • Permalink
Hermes family owners discuss ways to deal with LVMH
The family that controls French fashion house Hermès International is discussing ways to respond to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, which has accumulated a 17.1% stake in Hermès. The Wall Street Journal reported that Hermès "is considering funneling its shares into an unlisted holding company..... The holding company structure would prevent individual family members from selling their shares to outsiders."
The family "has hired consultants at French bank BNP Paribas SA and corporate lawyers to help it explore options," the Journal article said.
Hermès is controlled by a limited partnership that is open only to direct descendants of the company founders, the Journal report noted. Its bylaws "give the Hermès family decision-making power, even if only one family member were to remain a shareholder." If an unlisted holding company were to own part or all of the family's shares, there would be "an extra defense," the Journal article said.
According to the Journal report , 47 members of the Hermès family recently met. Sixth-generation chairman Bertrand Puech told the Journal that they voted on whether the family wanted to remain in control of the company; they unanimously voted yes, he said.
The Journal report noted:
Several members have sold small stakes, which Mr. Puech says could have ended up in [LVMH head Bernard] Arnault's hands. Hermès descendant and board member of the limited partnership Laurent Momméja sold 1.8 million euros ($2.5 million) of shares two days after Mr. Arnault's announcement, according to a fiing with the French stock market regulator. Jérôme Guerrand, the chairman of the supervisory board and another heir, has also sold millions of euros worth of shares in recent years.
(Source: Wall Street Journal, Nov. 10, 2010.)
Posted Wednesday, November 10, 2010 • Permalink
Yankee Candle founder opens new candle business
Michael J. Kittredge II, who founded Yankee Candle Co. out of his home in the late 1960s and sold it in 1998 to a private equity firm for about $600 million, has opened Kringle Candle Co. in Bernardston, Mass., the Boston Globe reported. His 20-year-old son, Michael Kittredge II, is president of Kringle Candle, which opened Oct. 16.
But there is more to his return than a simple desire to sell scented candles in a new venue. Kittredge, 57, established his new company 20 miles from Yankee Candle's flagship store. He hired back a handful of former employees to fill key positions and revived relationships with former retail connections. Kringle Candle is tiny compared with Yankee Candle -- now valued at more than $1 billion -- but the Kittredges do not rule out one day rivaling the industry leader..... Kittredge said he doesn't regret selling Yankee Candle, but he is concerned about the direction it has taken.
After Kittredge was diagnosed with cancer in the early 1990s, he began delegating operational responsibilities at Yankee Candle, according to the Globe report. He sold it to New York buyout firm Forstmann Little & Co. in 1998 and signed a ten-year non-compete agreement. He used some of the proceeds to commission a 197-foot yacht, named one of the world's 100 largest luxury yachts by Power and Motoryacht magazine, and sailed it with his family, the article said.
In 2007, Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, a New York equity firm, bought Yankee Candle for $1.6 billion, the Globe article said. It now operates 520 U.S. stores, has expanded into major retail outlets like Kohl's and Target, and runs a wholesale-customer network through a subsidiary. (Source: Boston Globe, Nov. 5, 2010.)
Posted Friday, November 05, 2010 • Permalink
Hermes CEO and chairman decry LVMH’s ‘attack’
In an interview with the Financial Times, Hermès International CEO Patrick Thomas and sixth-generation chairman Bertrand Puech called LVMH's surprise move to acquire a 17.1 stake in the company an "attack." The FT report said Thomas and Puech
made it clear that LVMH's 1.45 billion euro ($2 billion) investment was unwelcome and the stealthy raid on Hermès, that began in 2008 using equity swaps, was not "friendly," contrary to [LVMH head Bernard] Arnault's declaration.
Thomas, who became Hermès's first non-family chief executive in 2006, told the FT:
"It's clear his [Arnault's] intention is to take over the company and the family will resist that."
A Wall Street Journal article explained that Hermès's ownership structure gives most decision-making power to a single holding company that is open only to the founders' direct descendants, making it difficult for an outsider to control the firm without the entire family's approval.
However, the Journal report noted:
Mr. Arnault has built an industry powerhouse by pouncing on, dividing and wearing down families that used to own other pieces of the European champagne and fashion industries. Now, analysts says he has a chance of cleaving a rift among the three branches of the 220-person Hermès clan, which controls 73% of the company.
J.P. Morgan luxury goods analyst Melanie Flouquet told the Journal:
LVMH "is in a strong position to wait from here until family holders show signs of being willing to sell in blocks or in full."
Hermès's non-family deputy managing director, Patrick Albaladejo, told the Journal:
"Unlike other families where the link between the family and the business weakened over generations, the Hermès family continued to integrate successive generations and involve them in the business."
The Journal noted:
Hermès has shunned many of the formal rules that govern other family holdings. There are no shareholding pacts to officially unite the clan's capital, according to Mr. Albaladejo.... Each small family unit within the dynasty decides how and when to pass down the stake to their children.
The Journal article said that at least ten of the approximately 40 sixth-generation family members work at Hermès.
Hermès CEO Thomas told the FT that the company has asked France's stock market regulator to investigate how LVMH acquired its stake. The FT article said:
Mr. Thomas and Mr. Puech are adamant that the LVMH and Hermès cultures are fundamentally mismatched.
(Sources: Financial Times, Nov. 4, 2010; Wall Street Journal, Nov. 5, 2010.)
Posted Thursday, November 04, 2010 • Permalink
Ivanka Trump expands into jewelry, shoes, more
Ivanka Trump, daughter of Donald Trump and vice president of development and acquisitions at Trump International, is launching an Ivanka Trump shoe line and an Ivanka Trump bag line, in addition to a line of high-end jewelry that debuted in 2007, the Financial Times reported. She also recently published an advice book entitled The Trump Card.
In other words, she is trying to be both an entrepreneur in her own right and her father's heir, too.
After joining her father's firm in 2004, she co-founded Trump Hotel Collection, which includes five hotels, two open next year and three planned for the future, the article said.
Trump told the FT, "My focus is not to grow my personal brand, but the Trump organization." The report noted: "The subtext, of course, is that someday they may be one and the same." (Source: Financial Times, Nov. 3, 2010.)
Posted Wednesday, November 03, 2010 • Permalink
Rev. Moon, fired execs buy Washington Times from Moon’s son
A group of fired Washington Times executives led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the paper's founder, has repurchased the conservative newspaper from Moon's eldest son for $1, the Washington Post reported.
Moon, along with former president and publisher Thomas McDevitt, chairman Douglas M. Joo and finance chief Keith Cooperrider, will assume the conservative paper's debt and liabilities, the article said.
Preston Moon, Rev. Moon's eldest living son, fired the executives after he took control of the Times four years ago, according to the Post report.
Four years ago, Moon, known in [Unification Church] circles as "True Father," gave control of the Times to Preston, but the son grew estranged from his parents and brothers, who then cut off the paper's annual $35 million subsidy in church funds, according to Times sources and church memos.
Completion of the deal "marks the end of a tense two months of brinksmanship in which sources said Preston Moon came close to closing the paper," the Post reported. (Source: Washington Post, Nov. 3, 2010.)
Posted Wednesday, November 03, 2010 • Permalink
N.Y. Times Co. to issue debt to repay Slim loan
The New York Times Co. plans to raise $225 million through a debt offering -- 6.625% senior notes due in 2016 -- that it will use for "general corporate purposes," including repayment of a loan from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Last month, Times Co. Chief Executive Janet Robinson said the company wants to pay back a $250 million loan from Mr. Slim by January 2012, three years before the payment is due. Times Co. borrowed the money in January 2009, at 14% interest.
(Source: Wall Street Journal, Nov. 2, 2010.)
Posted Tuesday, November 02, 2010 • Permalink