It has been a week of divestments and acquisitions for family businesses; Metro divested in China, News Corporation and Shaw Communications both bought cable channels and JCDecaux eyed up a competitor.
Germany-based Metro Group, controlled by founder Otto Beisheim and the Haniel and Schmidt-Ruthenbeck families, has decided to scrap its consumer electronics operations in China.
Through a joint venture with Foxconn Technology Group, it had opened seven Media Saturn stores in China. But after a two-year test phase, which finished at the end of December 2012, and with gloomy growth forecasts, Metro announced it was pulling the plug on 16 January. In a statement, Foxconn and Metro said they had yet to determine how to divest the Media Saturn's Chinese operations.
Despite the move, Metro said China remains an important market – it will continue to operate its Metro Cash & Carry chain in the country.
Metro chairman Olaf Koch said in the statement: "We will further intensify our successful commitment to Metro Cash & Carry in China. The country is a key and promising market with good future prospects for our wholesale business."
Despite disappointment with BSkyB in the UK, News Corporation – controlled by the Murdoch family – is still keen to invest in the Sky brand.
On 14 January, News Corp agreed to increase its stake in Sky Deutschland to 54% from 49.9% in a deal worth €347.4 million.
The deal will give Sky Deutschland €438 million to invest in programming, technology and customer services. On top of the €347.4 million from News Corp, a further €90.6 million will be raised through a share offering to existing Sky Deutschland shareholders.
News Corp has agreed to provides Sky Deutschland with a loan if the share offering is not fully subscribed, to enable Sky Deutschland to reach the €438 million total.
Chase Carey, president and chief executive of the media conglomerate, said in a statement: "News Corporation's continued investment underscores the value we see in Sky Deutschland and the significant market opportunities it faces."
In Canada, family-run cable operator Shaw Communications reached an agreement on 14 January to buy the remaining shares of television channel TVtropolis it doesn't already own from Rogers Communications for Can$59 million (€44.7 million).
The purchase of the 33% stake is part of a package of agreements between the two companies, which includes the sale by Shaw to Rogers of shares in its cable operation Mountain Cablevision. The deal also grants Rogers the option to acquire Shaw's spectrum licences – its right to certain radio frequency bands – in five Canadian provinces. Shaw earned $700 million from the deal, minus the sum paid for TVtropolis.
Second-gen Brad Shaw, chief executive of Shaw, said in a statement: "The majority of the proceeds will be reinvested back into our business and will be focused on improving and strengthening our network advantage."
Back in Europe, French adverting company JCDecaux – controlled by the second-gen Decaux brothers – is reportedly eyeing up some of CBS Outdoor's divisions.
US television network CBS is planning to divest the European and Asian divisions of billboard advertiser CBS Outdoor – and JCDecaux's Jean-Francois Decaux, co-chief executive along with his brother Jean-Charles, has expressed an interest.
He told the Financial Times: "It could provide the way for further consolidation, which we believe is a good thing for the industry."
When contracted, JCDecaux said it could not provide any more information.