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April 4, 2013

Thomas Minder runs a third-generation Swiss family business making herbal toothpaste – his commitment to the family business is admirable, but he is more likely to be remembered for starting a revolt against excessive executive pay. 

Thomas Minder runs a third-generation Swiss family business that makes herbal toothpaste. Although Minder’s achievements in nurturing the family business are admirable, to the wider public he’s likely to be known for something a bit more important.

Minder has started a revolt against the excesses of executive pay in Switzerland that might be one of the biggest revolutions to happen in the area in the past few decades.

March 21, 2013

On the face of it, Aston Martin cars and Pot Noodle don’t have a lot in common. The motor driven by James Bond in his suaver moments can rarely have been mentioned in the same sentence as the famously nasty noodle snack slurped by students and builders.

On the face of it, Aston Martin cars and Pot Noodle don’t have a lot in common. The motor driven by James Bond in his suaver moments can rarely have been mentioned in the same sentence as the famously nasty noodle snack slurped by students and builders.

March 18, 2013

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the market, a shark has been found swimming off the Cyprus coast.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the market, a shark has been found swimming off the Cyprus coast.

To be more precise, the decision of the Cypriot government to levy a tax on local bank deposits has reminded investors of the delicate state of Europe’s finances.

March 11, 2013

Religious-based family firms were common in the west in the 19th century, and with 
the rise of the new economies faith is once again driving businesses.

If you stick around long enough, most things will come back into fashion. Until recently, the family-owned firm with a religious ethos would be regarded in fashionable western business schools as vaguely 19th century, conjuring images of earnest Quakers in sober attire, building model villages and fretting over the character of the working man.

March 6, 2013

As spectator sports go, reading rich lists is a pretty grim one. Poring over stories about others peoples’ billions is an odd pastime, vulgar and vaguely dirty. There’s also a 300-foot-high flashing neon question-mark over whether they are even accurate.

As spectator sports go, reading rich lists is a pretty grim one. Poring over stories about others peoples’ billions is an odd pastime, vulgar and vaguely dirty, which seems to appeal to the sort of boggle-eyed saddo who is obsessed with money for its own sake. There’s also a 300-foot-high flashing neon question-mark over whether they are even accurate.

March 5, 2013

If they want a piece of the Middle East’s action, businesses have to do a deal with one of the region’s family-owned conglomerates. 

It’s 2010 and the new owners of Harrods have parked their luxury sports cars on a busy street outside the department store in Knightsbridge, rather than avail themselves of the valet service that their latest acquisition could provide. Sporting the renowned baby-blue colour of Qatar’s Al Thani royal family, the Koenigsegg CCXR and Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce, two of the world’s fastest cars, were promptly clamped by parking inspectors.

February 28, 2013

Families are often tempted by the idea of teaming up to pool expertise, but the reality can be less enticing than it sounds.

Fed up of paying two and 20? Tired of getting returns near the median? It may be time to strike a deal – and it seems that many family offices are joining forces for the first time.

Club deals, the staple of the private equity sector, are the flavour of the month. On both sides of the Atlantic, the world of family offices is awash with talk of who is striking deals with whom.

February 25, 2013

Equity purchases made under duress produce a joyless stock market rally, where people are desperate to preserve their wealth, rather than cheer on recovery.

Six years ago, Zimbabwean shares were enjoying one of the greatest rallies the world has ever seen.

In the year to April 2007, the local stock market was up 12,000% as investors rushed to invest.

President Robert Mugabe was leading the country towards bankruptcy, after letting his war veterans seize farms owned by white farmers. Agriculture was in a state of collapse. Roads were crumbling. The rate of unemployment was 80%. Industry was bankrupt. Yet stocks defied reality.

February 18, 2013

Ask someone in Hong Kong, or for that matter Los Angles, Rio de Janeiro or Dubai, what their perception is of the state of Europe’s economy and you’ll probably get some pretty standard responses. 

Ask someone in Hong Kong, or for that matter Los Angles, Rio de Janeiro or Dubai, what their perception is of the state of Europe’s economy and you’ll probably get some pretty standard responses.

They’re likely to contain words like recession, gloomy or troubled, and unlikely to contain words like buoyant, dynamic and robust. Although raging less today than a year ago, the euro crisis has left its mark on much of the collective thinking of not just Europeans, but the rest of the world as well.

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