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Family business round up: Gokongwei, Louis Dreyfus, Walmart

Former Woolworth’s exec to head Walmart; Gokongwei family buy NZ biscuit maker for $700 million; Louis Dreyfus exits Indonesian palm oil venture

Former Woolworth’s exec to head Walmart; Gokongwei family buy NZ biscuit maker for $700 million; Louis Dreyfus exits Indonesian palm oil venture

Former Woolworth’s exec to head Walmart

Greg Foran, the former head of Woolworths, has been appointed president and chief executive of Walmart US, replacing Bill Simon, who has headed the company since 2010.

The New Zealander previously held a number of roles at Woolworths Australia, including managing director of supermarkets, where he managed more than $40 billion (€29 billion) in sales.

Foran, 53, now faces the unenviable task of reversing Walmart’s dwindling customer base as more and more customers flock online and to more conveniently located stores.

“Greg is one of the most talented retailers I’ve ever met. His depth of knowledge and global experience will bring a fresh perspective to our business,” said Doug McMillon, Walmart President and CEO.

The Walton family owns 50% of Walmart through their holding company Walton Enterprises and sought to solidify that claim last month by appointing son-in-law Greg Penner to vice chairman.

In 2014, Walmart posted revenues of $476.1 billion – a 1.6% increase over the previous financial year.

Gokongwei family buy NZ biscuit maker for $700 million

Philippines-based confectionary firm Universal Robina Corperation, owned by the Gokongwei family, has vastly expanded its operation in the South Pacific after purchasing New Zealand’s largest snack food maker.

The NZ$700 million ($451 million) deal to buy Griffin’s Foods will greatly expand URC’s product range, the firm said in a statement, and give Griffin’s the opportunity to expand into Asia.

URC is one of the largest food and drink makers in the Philippines and is owned by family business conglomerate JG Summit Holdings, headed by second-gen Lance Gokongwei.

“Griffin’s is a natural strategic fit to our existing snack foods portfolio given its strong brand heritage in New Zealand,” the second-gen said. “[They] have a high credibility when it comes to food quality, safety and authenticity.”

The move is the next logical step for in Griffin’s 150-year history, according to Griffin’s, who added that the firm was currently focused on taking new products to market.

Griffin’s was founded by John Griffin in Nelson, New Zealand, in 1864 and currently employs around 800 people.

Louis Dreyfus exits Indonesian palm oil venture

French family-owned company Louis Dreyfus Commodities has exited a joint undertaking in Green Eagle Resources Ltd (GEP) operating palm oil plantations in Indonesia, according to a Thursday statement.

The agricultural commodities group, headed by Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, said they decided to exit the venture following an annual review, but declined to comment on the reason behind their decision.

Created in 2011 with Rajawali Corp, the project oversaw 50,000 planted hectares and employing 2,000 people. In 2011 they produced nearly 100,000 tons of palm oil.

Revenues at Louis Dreyfus grew 11% to $63.6 billion in 2013, but net profit fell to $640 million from $1.1 billion in 2012, which the firm blamed the fall on the severe drought for grain in US markets.

The group hopes to double its sales by the end of 2018 and is investigating investment opportunities in Asia.


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