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Family business roundup: Bosch buys another German company, while others go global

It has been a week of consolidations in the family business world – German firm Bosch is to acquire fellow family-owned Ampack, a Hong Kong group is eyeing a non-family company in the UK, while an Indian conglomerate wants to make its mark in Australia.

It has been a week of consolidations in the family business world – German firm Bosch is to acquire fellow family-owned Ampack, a Hong Kong group is eyeing a non-family company in the UK, while an Indian conglomerate wants to make its mark in Australia.

A consortium led by Li Ka-shing, Asia’s richest man, is to buy UK gas company Wales and West Utilities for £645 million (€823 million), said a statement on 24 July.

The purchase will significantly increase Li’s flagship group Cheung Kong’s operations in the gas transmission sector, added the release, thanks to Wales and West Utilities controlling almost one-sixth of the gas pipelines in the UK.

Li, worth $25.5 billion (€21 billion), according to Forbes, is the ninth richest person in the world, and owns 40% of family-controlled Cheung Kong. The 83-year-old recently named his eldest son Victor as his successor.

Meanwhile, family business Bosch, a supplier of technology and services, is to acquire fellow family-controlled German group Ampack Ammann, which makes and sells packaging machines. The companies did not disclose the value of the deal.

Founded by Siegfried Amman in 1973 and currently chaired by his son Rainer, Ampack said in a joint statement that the takeover by Bosch will “support the strong further development of this family business”.

Bosch, which traces its roots back to the 1880s, is majority owned by the family’s foundation and had revenues of more than €50 billion in fiscal 2011.

Meanwhile, Aditya Birla Group, the Indian conglomerate controlled by the Birla family, seems keen to acquire Australia’s Northern Iron.

The latter said in a statement yesterday that it has received a revised offer from the Mumbai-based company. The bid, at AUS$1.40 (€1.18) per share, is up 8.5% on its previous offer made in May, which Northern’s board rejected as too low.

If the new offer is accepted, it will allow the Birlas to also expand in Norway, where Northern Iron owns the Sydvaranger mining project – expected to produce 2.8 million tonnes of the metal this year.

On the other hand, a French investment vehicle controlled by the Arnault family is all set to buy into the Indian market.

L Capital is to take an 8% stake in Fabindia – a retail chain that sells handmade clothes and fabrics – for a reported 120 crore Indian rupees (€18 million).

The stake purchase in Fabindia, controlled by second-generation William Bissel whose father John founded the group in 1960, is currently under regulatory approval.

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