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Family business roundup: 21st Century Fox, Fiat, Bestway

Murdoch merger rebuffed by Time Warner; Family-owned Fiat denies Volkswagen takeover bid and Bestway buy Co-op pharmacy in multi-million pound deal

Murdoch merger rebuffed by Time Warner

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has had an $80 billion (€59.1 billion) merger deal rejected by US rival Time Warner.

The merger would have consolidated HBO, CNN and Fox News and reduced costs for the combined company by up to $1 billion, mainly by cutting staff and administration costs.

Time Warner snubbed the $85 per share deal, worth 25% more than the current market value.

Media reports suggest the media mogul is likely to submit a second bid.

“Our business plans will create significantly more value for the company and our shareholders, and that’s superior to any proposal that Fox is in a position to offer,” said Jeffrey L Bewkes, the chief executive of Time Warner, in a video for employees.

However, the two firms have many of the same shareholders, like Wellington Capital Management, prompting those working in the industry to suggest the deal is inevitable.

Shares in 21st Century Fox increased 17% on Wednesday to $83.13.

Family-owned Fiat denies Volkswagen takeover bid

Italian carmaker Fiat, controlled by the Agnelli family, has denied an approach from German auto group Volkswagen, controlled by the Piech and Porsche family, to discuss a potential acquisition.

Rumours of the talks caused share prices at Fiat, headed by fifth-gen John Elkann, to jump 5.1% to €7.99 per share on Thursday, increasing the value of the company to €9.7 billion.

Volkswagen, on the other hand, saw their stock fall 3.2%. The German carmaker was valued at €88.2 billion.

“Fiat states that they have not held discussions with Volkswagen regarding a potential merger,” the Turin-based company said in a statement this week.

Volkswagen's US sales for this year are down 13.4%, while overall vehicle sales are up 4.3% in the country.

Bestway to buy Co-op pharmacy for £620 million

Britain’s seventh largest family-owned business Bestway Group has agreed to purchase the pharmacy arm of ailing Co-operative Group for £620 million, the firm said on Friday.

The sale of the 774-strong chain will be used to reduce the Co-op Group’s £1.4 billion debt freeing it up to concentrate on its core retail business.

Bestway will gain control over Britain’s third largest pharmacy chain and 6,500 staff.

Media reports suggest the deal will be completed in October and that Bestway had been competing against Lloyds Pharmacy, Alliance Boots and Carlyle.

The family-firm was founded by Sir Anwar Pervez, who emigrated from Pakistan in 1956, and launched his first business in Earl’s Court in 1963.

Today, Bestway is the UK’s second largest wholesale cash and carry operator and supplies more than 10,000 independent retailers.

Pervez remains chairman and his two sons work in the business. 

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