At a time when the eurozone crisis shows no sign of abating, family businesses such as America Movil, Prada and LVMH are giving mixed signals about their expansion plans.
According to Carlos Slim Domit, co-chairman of Mexican telecommunications group America Movil, now is a "good moment" to invest in Europe because of the continent's ongoing debt crisis.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Slim Domit, who is the son of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, said: “When hard times come, you look at opportunities in a very agile way. Europe is in a good moment.”
Mexico City-based America Movil recently announced it will increase its stake in Dutch telecommunications group KPN – the largest phone company in the Netherlands.
Fellow family-controlled Luxottica too is ramping up its presence in parts of Europe. In a statement on 17 May, the Italian eyewear-maker said it will acquire 120 stores of Sun Planet, a sunglasses retail chain, in Spain and Portugal. The deal, valued at €20 million, will see Sun Planet stores renamed Sunglass Hut.
Meanwhile, Bertelli family-controlled Prada, which owns the eponymous brand and others such as Miu Miu, said it is targeting Brazil, China and the Gulf countries for growth.
Patrizio Bertelli, chief executive of the Milan-based company, told Bloomberg the group plans to open more than 250 stores in the next three years in emerging markets.
Currently, countries in the Asia-Pacific region account for 35% of all of Prada’s sales. The family business, founded by Mario Prada and his brother Martino in 1913, expects this to rise to 40% in 2012 and 2013.
But while some family companies are widening their presence, the same cannot be said for L Capital, the investment vehicle of luxury group LVMH, controlled by the Arnault family.
The private equity fund has withdrawn its offer to buy India’s kidswear-maker Lilliput Kids, due to “differences over valuation and deal details”.