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Family Business Roundup: AB InBev, Primark, and Volkswagen

Peroni and Grolsch sold to smooth AB Inbev and SABMiller deal; Primark profits hampered by strong dollar; and Volkswagen agrees to buy back 600,000 US vehicles

Peroni and Grolsch sold to smooth AB Inbev and SABMiller deal

Family-controlled brewer AB InBev, which has been shedding assets to win regulatory approval for a takeover of SABMiller, has agreed to a €2.55 billion ($2. 87 billion) deal to sell European lager brands Peroni and Grolsch.

Japanese brewer Asahi will buy the lager brands in the UK and Europe, as well as London’s Meantime brewery, which is being put up for sale to help ease regulatory concerns over its £71 billion ($102 billion) takeover of SABMiller.

SABMiller – whose controlling shareholders include the Santa Domingo family from Columbia – has invested heavily in Peroni in recent years, marketing across Europe in order to make it a world leader.

The SABMiller takeover by AB InBev will create the world’s largest brewer with an estimated market capitalisation of $275 billion.

Primark profits hampered by strong dollar

Primark, the British-based discount clothing chain, reported a 5% increase in sales in the past six months but saw operating profits drop 3% to $448 million thanks to the strength of the US dollar.

George Weston, chief executive and scion of the family-controlled company, said: “Primark’s trading has only been marginally down in the UK, which had been a tough market. In the rest of Europe the numbers are good.”

Primark’s operating profit margin was better than expected at 11.7%.

The 47-year-old budget retailer, which is part of Associated British Foods, saw revenues grow by 5% to $3.8 billion.

Volkswagen agrees to buy back 600,000 US vehicles

Family-controlled carmaker Volkswagen has agreed to buy back some of the 600,000 diesel cars involved in the emission cheating scandal in the US and will allocate more than $1 billion to compensate owners.

Analyst Marc-Rene Tonn at Warburg Research estimated the direct financial impact on Volkswagen from the emissions scandal worldwide at €28.6bn ($32.3bn), The Guardian reported.

Some owners will get a choice of having VW repair their cars or buy them back, but that would vary by model year and engine type, according to an anonymous person speaking to The Guardian.

The deal does not yet include plans on how VW will repair the cars, which can spew out harmful nitrogen oxide at 40 times the allowable limit, according to the individual.

Sebastiaan Van Doorn, assistant professor of enterprise at the Warwick Business School in Coventry, who has conducted research into the management strucutrue at Volkswagen, said: "The fact that the US deal pertains to a little more than half a million cars sold in the US alone is a clear hint to where Volkswagen's responsibilities and interests really should lie. About half of the 11 million cars sold worldwide that are affected by the emissions scandal were sold in Europe and it is being estimated that these customers are likely to receive a much less favourable compensation arrangement, if at all.”

The third-generation family business is controlled by the Piech and Porsche families. It reported 2015 first half revenues of €109 billion ($120 billion).


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