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Family business roundup: Bauer, Lachlan Murdoch take control of media assets, March family sells controlling stake

Family businesses are showing a strong appetite this week for deal-making, with the Bauers and Lachlan Murdoch taking full control of media companies and Henkel investing in Central America.

Family businesses are showing a strong appetite this week for deal-making, with the Bauers and Lachlan Murdoch taking full control of media companies and Henkel investing in Central America. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s March family has sold a controlling stake in its construction business to a large French company.

German publishing group Bauer Media has acquired 100% of Auckland-based magazine publisher ACP, reportedly for AUS$500 million (€404.3 million), from Nine Entertainment. ACP publishes popular magazine such as Woman’s DayCleo and Metro in Australia and New Zealand. 

The sale returns ACP to family control. It was owned previously by Australia’s Packer family.

Fifth-gen family member Yvonne Bauer said in a 4 September statement that the acquisition “fits our strategy of developing the Bauer Media Group globally”, and that ACP’s titles are “perfect platforms to expand into digital areas”.

Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch’s eldest son Lachlan has bought the remaining 50% stake of DMG Radio Australia he doesn’t already own. The broadcasting company is behind popular Australian radio stations Nova and Smooth FM.

Through his private investment company Illyria, Murdoch paid about AUS$100 million for the 50% stake from the UK's Daily Mail and General Trust.

In a statement released to CampdenFB, Murdoch said that since he acquired his initial 50% stake in the broadcaster in 2009, DMG had “successfully implemented its growth strategy”. EBITDA has “doubled” and the internal rate of return on his initial investment is “more than 60%”, he said.

The move had led to speculation Murdoch could merge the company with family-run News Corp or go after rival media firm Fairfax’s radio business.

Asked about the matter, a spokesman for Murdoch Jr told CampdenFB : “Our focus is on organic growth but we never rule anything in or out.”

In Germany, consumer goods company Henkel, run by the eponymous family, has acquired Colgate-Palmolive’s laundry business in the Dominican Republic, it said on 4 September.

But in New Zealand, the March family has sold 55% of its construction business to Soletanche Freyssinet, a subsidiary of French construction giant Vinci.

March Construction managing director and family member Guy March said: “March now has the largest financial backing of any construction company in New Zealand.”

He will remain as managing director of the company, with “senior management” from Soletanche Freyssinet joining the board of directors, the company said in a statement.

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