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Family Business Roundup: Cushman and Wakefield, Lifeway Foods, and Inditex

By Michael Finnigan

Agnelli family to sell Cushman and Wakefield

New York-based real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, owned and controlled by Italy's Agnelli family, has been put up for sale and is expected to fetch $2 billion.

The deal is thought to be part of a capital raise so the Agnelli family can make further acquisitions in the automotive industry.

According to Bloomberg, Chinese conglomerate Fosun International is also among several companies considering a bid for the 98-year-old company.

Cushman & Wakefield was founded in New York by brothers-in-law John Clydesdale Cushman and Bernard Wakefield. The current chairman, John C Cushman III, is a descendant of the former.

Lifeway Foods posts 8% rise in 2014 profit

Lifeway Foods, which produces cultured dairy products known as kefir, today announced an 8% increase in gross profit for 2014.

According to a statement, gross profit for the year increased to approximately $28.9 million million for the year, while gross sales increased 20% or $21.3 million.

"We are pleased to report another year of strong financial results," said Julie Smolyansky, second-gen chief executive of Lifeway Foods. "Fiscal 2014 was an exciting year for Lifeway, in which we achieved many important milestones including the launch of our first ever national television commercial.

Smolyansky became the youngest female CEO of a publicly-held firm when she took over her father's kefir business in 2002 at the age of 27. 

A decade later company revenues jumped to more than $100 million, from $12 million when she took over.

The company said that total operating income had fallen by around 45% due to the increasing cost of milk, which rose around 30% this year.

Spain's Inditex introduces profit share plan

Family-controlled clothing empire Inditex has announced a profit sharing plan for employees that have been with the company for more than two years.

The fashion retailer, owned by Spanish billionaire Amancio Ortega, said it would share the bonus based on Inditex's earnings growth in 2015 and 2016.

Employees are expected to receive a maximum 2% of annual profits over this period.

In its last financial year, Inditex posted a 5% rise in sales and profits worth €1.7 billion ($1.8 billion).

The 52-year-old company also said it would invest about €1.35 billion this year, compared with €1.24 billion in 2014.

Amancio Ortega is the fourth richest man in the world, according to Forbes magazine.