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Family business roundup: L’Oreal buys, Hancocks sold and more acquisitions in the limelight

A number of acquisitions and sales have made headlines as family businesses around the world look to consolidate operations.

A number of acquisitions and sales have made headlines as family businesses around the world look to consolidate operations.

French family-controlled cosmetics group L’Oreal said on 26 November that it has acquired American make-up company Urban Decay. No financial details were disclosed.

Set up in 1993, Urban Decay is known for products such as Naked Palette – a brand of eye make-up – and Naked Skin, a foundation launched recently by the company.

Controlled by the Bettencourt family, L’Oreal also owns luxury groups including Lancome and Yves Saint Laurent. The purchase of Urban Decay comes as L’Oreal looks to up its offerings to younger customers.

Meanwhile, speculation is rife that Kuwait’s Investment Dar is looking for possible buyers for a 50% stake in luxury sports carmaker Aston Martin. An Indian family business has also reportedly made a bid.

Mahindra & Mahindra, a conglomerate with operations spanning construction and farm equipment, is one of two bidders for the stake, according to media reports. The group, chaired by third-gen Anand Mahindra, is looking to diversify its international operations.

But Investment Dar has so far denied receiving any competing bids – the second bidder is reportedly Italian buyout group InvestIndustrial.

In the UK, Hancocks, owned by second-gen twins Andrew and Adrian Hancock, has been sold to a Dutch private equity company for £50 million (€61.8 million).

The £100-million-plus confectionary company, based in Loughborough, was bought by H2 Equity Partners.

The sale brings to an end 50 years of family ownership at Hancocks, which was founded by the twins’ parents Liz and Ray Hancock in 1962.

In the US, McGraw-Hill – which still has a strong family business ethos despite the family holding just 4% of the company – is selling its education division to Apollo Global Management.

The deal, worth $2.5 billion, is part of the 124-year-old company’s strategy to focus on its financial services operations, it said on 26 November. McGraw-Hill first separated its education and markets divisions in September last year.

But another American family business appears intent on keeping its operations privately owned by refusing to bring in outside investors.

Ice cream-maker Wells Enterprise said last week that it will not dilute family ownership to expand the company. The Wells family has owned the billion-dollar group for the last 100 years.

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