Canada’s Shaw family increases stake in cable company
The Shaw family has increased its stake in Shaw Communications, the giant Western Canada cable operator controlled by the family, Reuters reported.
The family bought more than 1 million publicly traded non-voting shares. It now owns more than 51.5 million Class A voting and Class B non-voting shares, according to the report. The family plans to buy more shares.
The company announced the share purchase "days after a sharp fall in the market price following a further delay in the company's wireless roll-out plans," the Reuters article said.
In November, Brad Shaw replaced his older brother Jim as the company's CEO -- two months earlier than planned -- amid reports that he lost his temper at a lunch with investors.
A Hollywood Reporter article noted:
Under Brad Shaw, Shaw Communications has signaled it will focus on its core cable TV, Internet access and satellite TV businesses as it faces stepped up competition from Telus, Netflix Canada and other emerging Canadian players.
Shaw Communications was featured on the cover of Family Business Magazine's Summer 2002 issue. (Sources: Reuters, April 20, 2011; Hollywood Reporter, April 21, 2011.)
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 • Permalink
Lactalis bids for Parmalat
Lactalis, a French dairy company that is wholly owned by the Besnier family, has made a bid to buy the portion of Italian dairy Parmalat that it doesn't already own, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. Lactalis is currently Parmalat's biggest shareholder, with a 29% stake.
The offer is valued at 3.38 billion euros, or $4.9 billion.
Lactalis said it would keep the company listed in Milan, according to a Financial Times report. The FT cited a Lactalis statement that said:
"Lactalis will evaluate the possibility of merging into Parmalat its European milk activities, including those in France and Spain."
The offer was made just hours before a meeting between Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. (Sources: Bloomberg Businessweek, April 26, 2011; Financial Times, April 27, 2011.)
Posted Wednesday, April 27, 2011 • Permalink
Nephew of chairman/CEO named vice chair at Boscov’s
Jim Boscov, nephew of chairman and CEO Albert Boscov, has been named vice chairman at Boscov's Department Store, the website phillyBurbs.com reported.
Jim Boscov, 61, began his career at the Reading, Pa.-based store chain as an assistant store manager nearly 30 years ago and held various positions in the company before leaving to start his own businesses. He returned to the company in August 2001, the article said.
The report said Albert Boscov, 81, released a statement that read:
"We're gratified that Boscov's will remain a family business. With Jim's retail experience, intelligence and people skills, he was a natural choice. While I have no plans to retire, I want to assure our coworkers and business partners that Boscov's will remain Boscov's for many years to come."
The article noted that Albert Boscov retired in 2006 but returned two years later to rescue the chain from bankruptcy with money from family members, friends and private sources. At the time of the bankruptcy, Boscov's chairman and CEO was Kenneth Lakin, another nephew of Albert Boscov.
Jim Boscov's role as vice chairman will include advertising, overseeing projects and working closely with his uncle, the article said. (Source: phillyBurbs.com, April 22, 2011.)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2011 • Permalink
MLB takes over L.A. Dodgers as McCourts’ battle continues
Major League Baseball has taken over the Los Angeles Dodgers' business operations as the owners, divorced spouses Frank and Jamie McCourt, continue to battle over ownership of the team. Bloomberg reported:
Commissioner Bud Selig announced [April 20] that baseball would appoint a representative to run the Dodgers "because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations" ...
Bloomberg Businessweek reported in August that, according to unidentified people close to the McCourts, the Dodgers' debt stood at around $525 million, the majority of it borrowed against future ticket sales. Forbes magazine estimated almost all the team's profits were being used to pay down the interest on those debts.
The McCourts' divorce was final in October; they had been married nearly 31years, the Bloomberg article said. Last year, a Los Angeles judge invalidated a postnuptial agreement that, according to Frank McCourt's contention, would have made him sole owner of the team, the report noted. The Bloomberg article said:
Court documents filed in the divorce case said the McCourts took $108 million in personal distributions from the team between 2004 and 2009, almost half for personal mortgages and real estate.
According to a Los Angeles Times report:
The baseball world had viewed [Frank] McCourt with suspicion almost from the moment he and Jamie McCourt engineered a highly leveraged purchase of the Dodgers in 2004. McCourt needed a $145 million loan from Fox [part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.], the team's previous owner, to finalize the deal, putting up his Boston parking lots as collateral. Fox essentially foreclosed on the property and sold it two years later.
A separate LA Times article said that Jamie McCourt's claim of 50% ownership of the team is based on California community-property law. "Jamie McCourt remains interested in buying all of the Dodgers," the article said, "although it is uncertain that Major League Baseball would approve an ownership group with which she is involved, even as a minority partner."
That report also said that Frank McCourt "needed a $30 million loan form Fox in order to meet payroll [for the week of April 11], secured with funds he does not have and might never have. In the event McCourt cannot repay Fox, he has promised the company $30 million from any settlement with or judgment against Bingham McCutchen, the law firm that drafted the since-invalidated agreement that McCourt had relied upon to establish his ownership of the Dodgers." (Sources: Bloomberg, April 21, 2011; Los Angeles Times, April 21, 2011.)
Posted Thursday, April 21, 2011 • Permalink
Candy maker’s future uncertain after co-CEO’s death
After the April 18 death of 47-year-old Pietro Ferrero, co-CEO of Italian candy maker Ferrero SpA, in a bicycle accident, the company's future direction is uncertain, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Ferrero SpA makes Nutella chocolate and hazelnut spread and developed Tic Tac mints. It generated sales of $9.5 billion in fiscal 2010.
Although the executive shared the title of CEO with his brother Giovanni, 46, he was widely regarded inside the halls of Italian finance as the company's top manager. Mr. Ferrero was also viewed by bankers and analysts as a modernizing force in a company known for its insular management....
Pietro Ferrero's grandfather, also named Pietro, who founded the company, focused on inventing candies rather than making acquisitions, as did Pietro's father, Michele, 85, the Journal article said. An analyst told the Journal that the younger Pietro Ferrero "showed more of a propensity to look" for acquisition opportunities.
When Pietro and Giovanni took over operations in the late 1990s, Michele "continued to have sway over strategy, eschewing the kinds of cross-border acquisitions that transformed rivals into global players," according to the Journal report.
In 2009, Pietro "challenged his father's deal-averse approach," advocating for a bid for U.K. candy maker Cadbury PLC. Ferrero dropped out of the bidding because Pietro Ferrero "was ultimately unable to overcome his family's skepticism about a potential deal," the article said. Ferrero recently considered but ultimately rejected move to join a consortium of Italian companies to take over Italian dairy Parmalat SpA, the Journal article said. (Source: Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2011.)
Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2011 • Permalink
Pritzkers plan to decrease stake in Hyatt
The Pritzker family is planning to reduce its ownership stake in the Hyatt hotel chain to less than 50%, though the family would still retain control of the company, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Six family members, through their trusts, issued a shelf registration in February with the Securities and Exchange Commission that allows them to sell 19 million shares of Hyatt stock at any time.
When the shares are sold, the Pritzkers' ownership would decline to less than half of Hyatt's outstanding common stock for the first time since the company went public in November 2009. But family members would continue to control 73 percent of the voting power thanks to a dual-stock structure that gives the Pritzkers 10 times the voting power of other shareholders.
An analyst told the Tribune that the Pritzkers "might sell and they might not," but predicted Hyatt's stock price would rise if more shares are offered to the public.
The Tribune article noted that the recent move is part of a 2001 agreement among 11 heirs of Hyatt founder Jay Pritzker "to divest and divide the family's assets by the end of 2011" to resolve a disagreement. The report said that some family members have been selling Hyatt shares among themselves.
In September, Linda Pritzker sold 7.3 million shares of Hyatt stock from her trusts to Thomas J. Pritzker's and Gigi Pritzker Pucker's trusts for $276 million, according to filings. Filings show that John Pritzker also no longer holds a stake in Hyatt after selling 8.6 million shares to those same family members for $325 million.
(Source: Chicago Tribune, April 19, 2011.)
Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2011 • Permalink
Ferragamo prepares for IPO
Italian luxury goods company Salvatore Ferragamo SpA, which is majority-owned by the Ferragamo family, has presented a request to list its shares on the Italian stock exchange, the Wall Street Journal reported. An initial public offering could take place by late June, according the report.
The company is also weighing placing its shares with institutional investors in the U.S. and Japan, the Journal article said.
The founder's wife, Wanda Ferragamo, and son, Ferruccio Ferragamo, will serve on the company's board, which will have 11 members when the company is listed, according to the report. Other board members will be non-family CEO Michele Norsa and the family's business partner, Peter Woo. The company's financial subsidiary Ferragamo Finanziaria sold an 8% stake to the Hong Kong-based Woo family in March, the Journal report noted.
Last year, "the company shook off the economic-crisis doldrums that prevented it from listing its shares in previous years," the Journal article said. Its sales rose 26% to $1.13 billion, according to the report. (Source: Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2011.)
Posted Thursday, April 14, 2011 • Permalink
Harman family to retain stake in Newsweek
The family of Sidney Harman, who died April 12 at age 92, will retain its 50% interest in Newsweek/Daily Beast Company, according to news reports.
Harman bought Newsweek magazine from the Washington Post Company last year, "despite warnings from his financial advisers, lawyers and family members that it would prove to be an unwise investment," the New York Times reported. The Times article said:
Now Mr. Harman's family is entrusted with honoring and preserving their patriarch's legacy.
Last November, Newsweek merged with the Daily Beast, Harman became co-owner with Barry Diller's IAC/Interactive Corp. The Times article noted that one of Diller's top executives, Stephen Colvin, is CEO of the merged company, Harman's death "would seem to further place control of the company in the hands of Mr. Diller and his deputies." However, the article said:
Mr. Harman had already signaled an heir apparent: his 29-year-old son Daniel, who is a student at Columbia Business School. Daniel had visited the Newsweek offices with his father and was one of a few family members who had accompanied Mr. Harman when he met with the magazine's staff shortly after the sale.
(Source: New York Times, April 13, 2011.)
Posted Thursday, April 14, 2011 • Permalink
Third-generation Lauder to launch new brand
Aerin Lauder, a granddaughter of cosmetics company founder Estée Lauder, is relinquishing the title of senior vice president and creative director at the company to launch her own brand, the New York Post's "Page Six" column reported.
Lauder, who had been the third-largest shareholder at Estée Lauder, plans to start a fashion and lifestyle brand "with the guidance of" Vogue editor Anna Wintour and former NBC Universal executive Jeff Zucker, the "Page Six" article said.
The Post column said that after she steps down from her Estée Lauder posts, Aerin Lauder will "take a consulting role at the company."
According to the business blog Footnoted.com, Estée Lauder reported details of the move to the Securities and Exchange Commission in an 8-K filing. Footnoted.com reported that under the consultant agreement Estée Lauder will pay Aerin Lauder $700,000 a year, with a 4% raise each year through 2016, plus $20,000 a day for each day she works for the company, rising by $1,000 a day each year after 2012.
Under a license agreement, Aerin Lauder can't use her last name without permission from Estée Lauder's chairman and its chief executive, but she is licensing her first name and a logo to Estée Lauder. According to Footnoted.com, she will receive 5% of net sales for fragrances and 4% of net sales for other products up to $40 million, and 5% thereafter. Under the agreement, Estée Lauder must spend 20% net sales up to promote her branded products, falling to 15% after the first year, the blog post said.
Meantime, now that she's no longer an employee, presumably she'll get paid as a director of Estée Lauder: $70,000 cash, plus $25,000 in Class A stock that is turned over the year after the director leaves the board, and options on 5,000 Class A shares.
Estée Lauder will pay Aerin Lauder more than she earned before she left the company, the Footnoted.com report said. Her salary last year was $335,000 with a $162,459 bonus. This fiscal year, according to the blog, she stood to make $375,000 in salary and receive a $175,000 bonus. (Sources: "Page Six," New York Post, April 4, 2011; Footnoted.com, April 11, 2011.)
Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2011 • Permalink
Washington Post Co. ‘reeling from … criticism’ over Kaplan unit
The Washington Post Co.'s Kaplan division is "reeling from a storm of criticism of the industry's practices" and faces a sharp drop in enrollment and new regulations affecting federal student loans, the Washington Post reported.
The article noted that the Post Co. entered the for-profit education market 11 years ago when it bought Quest Education, an Atlanta-based chain of vocational schools catering to low-income students, for $165 million. Kaplan became a multibillion-dollar enterprise as the newspaper industry's fortunes declined and the company sold Newsweek magazine. The Post noted:
The Post Co. now calls itself an education and media company -- no longer the other way around. But what proved a deftly timed business move brought other, less welcome scrutiny to a family-run company that had long prided itself in serving the public interest.
The article said the company "did not keep close-enough tabs on its fast-sprawling education unit, even as it focused heavily on customers who were poorer and thus at the riskier end of the business." Citing a former director who was not named, the report said board members "were better versed in media than education but that the lure of big profits was hard to resist."
The report noted that Post Co. CEO Donald Graham "tended to delegate authority to trusted managers."
Graham, who inherited control of the company from his mother and grandfather, had risen through the newspaper side of the business. Kaplan was a different animal: bigger and dispersed. By 2006, it had three times as many full-time employees as the newspaper did; today it has seven times as many.
In December, the Post Co.'s higher-education division laid off 5% of its workforce, and it is shifting its focus away from poor students, the article said. In the fourth quarter, enrollments dropped by 47%.
"The fate of The Post Co. has become inextricably linked with that of Kaplan....," the article said. (Source: Washington Post, April 9, 2011.)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 • Permalink
Ana Botin expands Santander’s U.K. presence
Ana Botín, the chief executive of Santander UK, is focused on building a customer base after major acquisitions in the country, the Financial Times reported.
Botín, daughter of Santander's group chairman, Emilio Botín, was appointed to the U.K. position after her predecessor, António Horta- Osório, and his team moved to Lloyds Banking Group. She previously led Santander subsidiary Banesto, where she was credited with successfully weathering the financial crisis, according to the FT report.
Botín plans to increase the bank's U.K. market share and its lending to small and medium-sized businesses and to improve its customer service, the article said. The bank is "building up to a London stock market listing," according to the report. (Source: Financial Times, April 11, 2011.)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 • Permalink
NBCUniversal CEO earned more than Comcast’s Brian Roberts
Brian Roberts, Comcast Corp.'s chairman, president and CEO, earned more than $30 million in 2010 but was not the company's highest-paid employee, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported, citing the company's proxy statement.
While Roberts' total compensation was nearly $31.1 million, he was out-earned by Stephen Burke, president and CEO of new Comcast property NBCUniversal. Burke received more than $34.7 million, including salary, bonus and other items, the journal article said.
2010 was the second year in which Burke bested Roberts in the total compensation department. His haul in 2009 was nearly $34 million, while Roberts only earned slightly more than $27.2 million.
The base salaries of Roberts, Burke and two other Comcast executives were frozen, at their requests, from Jan. 1, 2009, through Feb. 28, 2011, the article said. The journal reported that they have requested that the freezes be continued until Feb. 29, 2012.
The compensation figures include amounts for personal use of aircraft provided by Comcast, the report noted. (Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, April 1, 2011.)
Posted Friday, April 01, 2011 • Permalink
August Busch IV sued for wrongful death
Blake Alexander Martin, the eight-year-old son of August Busch IV's girlfriend, has filed a wrongful death suit against the former CEO of Anheuser-Busch, the St. Louis Business Journal reported. Adrienne Martin, 27, died of a drug overdose at the beer scion's home in December.
Blake Martin's father, Dr. Kevin Martin, acted as a guardian plaintiff for the child, filed the suit in St. Louis County Circuit Court against the 46-year-old Busch, saying the death was the result of Busch's "carelessness and negligence," the journal reported. The case has been transferred to a court in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
In his response to the suit, Busch said Adrienne Martin was a guest in his home but denies any liability for her death.
The article noted that St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch did not file charges in Adrienne Martin's death, which the medical examiner said was an accidental overdose of oxycodone. Cocaine was also detected in her system.
Busch was CEO of Anheuser-Busch from 2006 to 2008, when the company was sold to Belgium-based InBev. (Source: St. Louis Business Journal, March 31, 2011.)
Posted Friday, April 01, 2011 • Permalink