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Family Business Roundup: Hyundai, Vivendi, and Dyson

Hyundai Motor vows to improve corporate governance; Bollore boosts stake in Vivendi; and James Dyson to acquire son’s lighting company

Hyundai Motor vows to improve corporate governance

South Korea’s largest automaker Hyundai Motor Co will consider a shareholder request to improve corporate governance, according to co-chief executive Kim Choong Ho.

The proposal comes shortly after Hyundai paid more than $10 billion for a piece of real estate in Seoul’s affluent Gangnam district, which caused share prices to drop and rekindled the debate around opaque decision making.

“I hope this incident will give an opportunity for Hyundai Motor to improve its governance structure in a rational manner,” said the executive, Park Yoo-kyung, during the first shareholder meeting following the acquisition.

According to an anonymous source, board members at Hyundai approved the deal without knowing the exact price of the bid and ended up paying more than three times the asking price.

The proposal for better governance is just one example of growing assertiveness from shareholders in South Korea’s chaebol, who have traditionally left control to family members and their board.

Hyundai, which posted revenues of 87.3 trillion won ($79 billion) in 2014, said the acquisition will help the fund future growth and will become the site of its new headquarters.

Bollore boosts stake in Vivendi

French billionaire Vincent Bolloré has increased his stake in Vivendi for the third time this month, as the entrepreneur seeks to consolidate his grip on the media giant before a crucial shareholders meeting next week.

According to a company statement, Bolloré acquired an additional 2.51% stake via his family-controlled conglomerate Groupe Bolloré, spending more than €800 million ($851 million) in the process.

The Bolloré group said it used 34 million Vivendi shares it owns as collateral to secure a loan that was used to purchase the additional stake.

The news comes just days after the firm announced a peace deal with minority shareholder P Schoenfeld Asset Management LP, who had wanted Vivendi to exempt itself from a new French law that gives long-term shareholders twice as many votes as new investors.

Vivendi posted revenues of €22.1 billion ($23.5 billion) in 2013 and has spent the past two years aggressively streamlining its business by selling an estimated €35bn of assets. The firm is thought to currently hold a war chest of around €11 billion.

James Dyson to acquire son’s lighting company

British engineer Sir James Dyson has revealed plans to acquire his son’s lighting company in a bid to keep vacuum maker Dyson a family owned business, according to the Financial Times.

“I want the business to remain a family business,” Sir James said in the interview. “Jake is highly competent, loves technology, and has good business sense and marketing sense. He’s got all the things I had and more, because he’s more inventive. So he will take it to places I couldn’t.”

Jake Dyson, 42, produces high-end energy efficient lights through his company Jake Dyson Products, which will now become part of the overall Dyson Group.

The middle child has been a non-executive board director at Dyson since 2013, with the acquisition likely to be viewed as early succession planning

In 2013, Dyson posted profits of £382 million ($560 million) on turnover of £1.3 billion. The 67-year-old owns the entire company.  

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