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Family Business Roundup: Dassault, Central Group, Holcim and Lafarage

By Michael Finnigan

Family Business Roundup: Dassault, Central Group, Holcim and Lafarage

Dassault Aviation posts 2014 profit drop

French aerospace company Dassault Aviation, owned by the eponymous family, has reported a 38% drop in its net profit for 2014.

According to a statement released yesterday, net profit for the year slipped to €282 million ($299 million) from €459 million in 2013, while net sales fell to €3.68 billion from €4.59 billion.

The 34-year-old firm, which is in the second generation, also revealed that it had delivered 11 aircraft to the French Air Force and Navy in 2014, bringing the total number of delivered Dassault Rafale fighter planes to 137.

Dassault said it expects to deliver around 65 Falcon business jets in 2015.

The board of directors recommended that stakeholders receive a dividend of €10 per share in 2015, corresponding to a total of €92 million. 

Thailand's Central Group to invest $1.14 billion in SE Asia

Central Group, the largest retail conglomerate in Thailand, plans to invest 37 billion baht ($1.14 billion) in south-east Asia this year.

A spokesman from the 68-year-old firm told reporters at a news conference on Monday that it plans to open a string of new malls in the region in a bid to tap into cross-border trade.

Central Group, controlled by Thailand's Chirathivat family, is not the first major company in Thailand looking to expand into other territories, which has been hit by poor consumer spending.

The unlisted firm did however reveal that it would open 300 new food stores and six new shopping malls in domestic markets, as well as nine new hotels in countries including Vietnam and Indonesia.

Central Group was founded in 1947 by Tiang Chirathivat, who grew a single merchandise store into the largest family-owned conglomerate in Thailand. Tiang Chirathivat has an estimated net worth of $4.3 billion, according to Forbes.

Central Group saw revenues rise 27% to a record $7 billion in 2013. The second generation of Chirathivats, having run the Central Group for nearly half a century, plans to pass the reins to the third generation.

Holcim and Lafarage to renegotiate merger terms

Swiss family-owned cement maker Holcim and French counterpart Lafarage are set to renegotiate the terms of a €41 billion merger after a divergence in the value of the two companies over the past year, according to the Financial Times.

The two sides have been in talks since last April. However, over the last few weeks Holcim's shareholders have raised concerns and objections, amid concerns that the price on the table no longer holds.

A representative for the Schmidheiny family, which founded Holcim and is still its largest investor, told Reuters on Monday: “The industrial logic of the deal is undisputed.” 

The remarks came after German newspaper Sonntags Zeitung reported that, head of the family and the former chairman of Holcim, Thomas Schmidheiny wanted the terms of the deal renegotiated.

The deal proposes a one-for-one share merger.