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Family business roundup: Auchan and Lactalis splash out, Fiat plans merger

Family businesses continue to look to divestments, mergers or acquisitions in a bid to maximise opportunities, with French firms Auchan and Lactalis buying new assets while Italy's Agnelli family is merging two if its companies.

Family businesses continue to look to divestments, mergers or acquisitions in a bid to maximise opportunities, with French firms Auchan and Lactalis buying new assets while Italy's Agnelli family is merging two if its companies.

Auchan
In France, the Mulliez family's hypermarket chain Auchan has signed an agreement with German group Metro to buy the chain of Real hypermarkets and shopping centres in eastern and central Europe. In a deal worth €1.1 billion, Auchan will take control of 91 hypermarkets and 13 shopping centres in Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine in 2013.

Rumours that debt-burdened Metro, controlled by founder Otto Beisheim and the Haniel and Schmidt-Ruthenbeck families, would sell Real first emerged earlier this year.

Lactalis/Jindi Cheese
Fellow French family business Lactalis, the world’s largest dairy products company, has also made an acquisition, buying Australia's Jindi Cheese, a subsidiary of the family-owned Menora Foods.

The Aus$20 million deal (€16 million) is expected to be completed in early December and will allow the Renolds family's Menora Foods to focus on its core distribution business. Lactalis is privately held by the Besnier family and operates in 150 countries.

Fiat Industrial
Elsewhere in Europe, two businesses controlled by Italy's Agnelli family are set to merge. Italian truck and tractor-maker Fiat Industrial and US business CNH Global, owner of the Case and New Holland brands, will merge in the second quarter of 2013.

The move, which will make Fiat Industrial the world’s third-largest capital goods company by sales, would simplify the equity capital structure of both companies, according to a release.

News Corporation
In the US, News Corp, controlled by the Murdoch family, announced further details regarding the proposed split of the media conglomerate on 3 December.

The company is hoping to separate the newspaper and publishing divisions of the business from the more profitable film and television arm. Under the plans, the publishing side will retain the News Corp name while the media and entertainment arm will be called Fox Group.  

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