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Family business roundup: Thornton & Ross, Carlos Slim, L’Oreal and James Packer

British pharmaceutical company leaves founding family’s hands, Carlos Slim launches new satellite, L’Oreal bids for Chinese business, and James Packer has high hopes for his gambling empire’s expansion into Japan.

British pharmaceutical company leaves founding family’s hands, Carlos Slim launches new satellite, L’Oreal bids for Chinese business, and James Packer has high hopes for his gambling empire’s expansion into Japan.

Thornton & Ross
Ninety-one years of family ownership have come to an end at UK-based pharmaceuticals company Thornton & Ross.

Its larger, German counterpart Stada, has bought the firm for £221 million (€248 million). Stada is a publicly traded company that started life as a cooperative.

Thornton & Ross sells a variety of over-the-counter medicine brands to high street pharmacies.

Nathan Thornton and Phillip Ross founded the company in 1922. The Ross family sold their share in the 1980s but third-gen Jonathan Thornton currently chairs the £66 million-a-year company.

The founding family will have no further involvement in the business when the sale is finalised.

America Movil
A Brazilian satellite operator, Star One, has announced plans to invest $400 million (€299 million) in a new satellite to provide data streaming services to rural areas.

Star One is part of Brazilian telecommunications company firm Embratel – a subsidiary of Telmex, which, in turn, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Carlos Slim's telecommunications titan America Movil.

Competition in the Central and South American telecommunications market has intensified in recent years, as providers scramble to upgrade their networks in preparation for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Embratel, along with Claro, another America Movil company, has been named official telecommunications sponsor of the event.

The satellite is due to launch in the first quarter of 2016.

L’Oreal and Magic Holdings
French cosmetics giant L’Oreal has made a takeover bid for Chinese skincare firm Magic Holdings International.

The family firm has offered $843 million (€632 million) for the company in a deal that has been approved by six Magic shareholders who own 62%.

Magic is the market leader for facial masks in China, with a 26% share of the market last year, according to AC Nielsen data.

L’Oreal, which is trying to make inroads into China to counter stagnation in traditional markets, said in a statement that facial masks are one of the fastest growing areas in the Chinese beauty market.

The deal still needs approval from China’s Ministry of Commerce.

James Packer and Melco Crown Entertainment
Australian media and entertainment tycoon James Packer has said he wants to expand his gaming empire into the Japanese market, pending new legislation set to go before parliament this year.

Casinos are currently illegal in Japan but the population has a healthy appetite for other forms of gambling, such as horse racing and pachinko arcades – slot machine parlours that work with tokens rather than money.

The new Japanese bill would allow companies, such as Packer’s Melco Crown Entertainment, to launch casino resorts in the country.

In an interview with The Australian – owned by rival family empire, News Corp – Packer said the legislation would pave the way for Japan to become the second-biggest gaming market in the world, due to its population, wealth and existing appetite for gambling.

Since his father’s death in 2005, Packer has moved the family business away from its traditional media interests into gaming. 

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