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Family business roundup: Roche sees marginal decline while Cargill and Vista grow

By Rashmi Kumar

Despite tough market conditions, three family businesses from different parts of the world have posted relatively strong quarterly and annual results this week.

European pharmaceutical giant Roche, controlled by the founding family, saw sales for the first quarter of 2012 fall by 1% to CHF11 billion (€9.15 billion) due to the strength of the Swiss franc. However, revenues at constant exchange rate rose by 2%, the Basel-based company said on 12 April.

The drug-maker, which recently made headlines for its attempt to take over Illumina, added it was “on track” to achieve its target for the full year.

American counterpart Cargill, the agricultural commodities trader, said on 10 April that third-quarter revenues rose by 5% to $31.9 billion (€24.2 billion), up from $30.5 billion a year ago.

But the agribusiness, controlled by the Cargill and MacMillan families, saw just a marginal increase in its earnings for the quarter ending 29 February 2012 – net income rose to $766 million from $763 million for the same period last year.

“Although it continues to be an unsettled year for the global economy, we did a better job navigating the uncertainty. It reinforces our focus on creating value for our customers, improving our work processes and keeping our costs in check,” said Greg Page, chairman and chief executive of Cargill, in a statement.

In Asia, Vista Land & Lifescapes, the housing developer controlled by the Villar family, reported a strong performance for 2011. The Philippines-based group said on 10 April that revenues for the year rose by 18.2% to PHP14.75 billion (€264 million), thanks to an “increase in the overall completion rate of sold inventories”.

This was on the back of buoyant profit growth of 17% to PHP3.53 billion. Founded by Manuel Villar Sr in 1975, Vista is the country’s largest real estate developer.

In the luxury automobile industry, German family business BMW said on 11 April that it saw record sales for March, selling more vehicles during the month than “in any other month in its history”. The group sold 185,728 cars.

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