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FB Roundup: Essilor-Luxottica, Mulberry, and Nobel Sustainability Growth Fund

Essilor-Luxottica to hire chief executive, losses widen for British bag maker, and £100m sustainability fund launches

Essilor-Luxottica to hire chief executive

A position heading the company created by the €50 billion ($59 billion) merger of Luxottica and Essilor is about open up, with the firms acknowledging they will look for a new chief executive for the eyewear giant.

Hubert Sagnières, chairman and chief executive of Essilor, told the Financial Times he was “too old” for the new gig and confirmed the newly-created company would hire a new chief.

The merger, one of the largest tie ups in European history, combines Luxottica, known for brands such as Ray Ban and Persol, and Essilor, a French company leading the charge in ophthalmic lenses.

Luxottica founder Leonardo Del Vecchio, who is the richest man in Italy, is set to become the largest single shareholder in the combined company with a stake of 31% to 38%.

Luxottica turned over $10.6 billion in 2016, compared with Essilor’s $8.3 billion.

The companies announced in November that the merger had been approved by the Canadian Competition Bureau.

The deal has been cleared so far in ten other jurisdictions: Australia, Colombia, India, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, South Korea and Taiwan. EU regulators are also tipped to soon approve the deal.

Losses widen for British bag maker

Luxury handbag maker Mulberry is running at a widening loss this year, despite strong international sales and London tourists’ enthusiasm for the British-made bags.

Like-for-like sales fell 1% year-on-year, according to the company’s half-year report, while revenues were flat, and pre-tax losses widened to £609,000 ($816,000) from £515,000 ($690,000) in the first half of 2016.

Chief executive Thierry Andretta said while there was strong demand from tourists to London, the rest of the UK market “remains uncertain”.

“The group remains in a strong position to invest in further developing the customer experience in key international markets and enhancing its unique UK design and manufacturing base.”

Mulberry was founded in 1971 in Somerset at the Saul family kitchen table and today has annual revenue in the vicinity of $100 million a year. Saul was ousted from the company in 2003 during a takeover by Singaporean billionaire Christina Ong, whose family holding company Challice Investments now owns 56% of Mulberry.

£100m sustainability fund launches in London

The latest impact-focussed investment vehicle has launched in London, backed by powerful families.

The £100 million ($134 million) Nobel Sustainability Growth Fund (NSGF) will make UK-based private equity investments to build technology, manufacturing, services and asset development businesses in post-Brexit Britain.

Partners in the project include the Nobel family’s Nobel Sustainability Trust, and SET3, co-founded by Stephen Lansdown of Hargreaves-Lansdown and Gordon Power.

There are no conclusive statistics to measure the size of the impact investing market, but the closest may be the Global Impact Investing Network’s Annual Impact Investor Survey, which in 2017 indicated about the figure is close to $114 billion.

The UK NSGF will be followed by other regional funds around the world focused on resource efficiency, clean energy and sustainable technology.

The SET3 group manages $1.1 billion, while NSF is targeted to be more than $500 million.


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