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Family Business Roundup: Suzuki, Institutional Shareholder Service, and One Thousand & One Voices

By Michael Finnigan

Suzuki CEO names eldest son as successor

Osamu Suzuki, the 85-year-old CEO of Japanese auto maker Suzuki, named his eldest son as the new president this week, easing investor concern over the firm's succession plan.

Executive vice president Toshihiro Suzuki took over the role of president and chief operating officer on Tuesday. His outspoken father will remain CEO and chairman for the foreseeable future, according to Tuesday's statement.

Shares at the century old family business increased by more than 5% following the announcement, which also included a five-year business plan that aims to raise revenue to a record levels by March 2020.

“Toshihiro's promotion has cleared clouds hanging over Suzuki,” according to Satoru Takada, an analyst at TIW Inc, who spoke to Reuters. “Power succession has been an issue for Suzuki for years. They had to give their answer sometime soon.”

Osamu Suzuki began working at Suzuki in 1958 after marrying Shoko Suzuki, the granddaughter of the company founder Michio Suzuki. The firm recently announced plans to boost revenues at a measured pace of 100 billion yen (€733 million) per year.

ISS adds voice to contentious Samsung merger

International advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Service has told investors to reject Samsung Group's proposed merger of two subsidiaries, setting back the South Korean conglomerate's plans to facilitate the Lee family's father-to-son succession.

The announcement comes one week after the Seoul Central District Court rejected a request from US hedge fund Elliot Associates to stop Cheil Industries buying Samsung C&T Corp through an all-stock deal worth $8 billion, which they believe undervalues C&T shares along with their 7.1% stake.

In the report, ISS said the deal “significantly disadvantages Samsung C&T shareholders” and said it could send shares in Samsung C&T down by as much as 23%. Another proxy-advisory firm, Glass Lewis & Co, also urged shareholders to reject the deal on Friday, calling the merger process too short.

Two-thirds of shareholder present at a shareholders meeting on July 17 and one-third of all shares have to vote "yes" for the deal to go through. The Lee family own less than 2% of the company's total stock but have held control through a complex web of share holdings.

Family-backed equity firm invests in African beef

One Thousand & One Voices, a private equity firm founded by brewing next-gen John Coors, this week purchased a minority investment in Sub-Saharan African beef processing and distribution company Beefmaster.

The investment, which is subject to customary closing conditions, will be One Thousand & One Voices' second in the agribusiness processing and distribution sector in a matter of months.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, beef prices will increase at an annual nominal growth rate of 6% through to 2022 and One Thousand & One Voices believes their investment will help the firm grow further.

Hendrik Jordaan, president and chief executive officer of One Thousand & One Voices, said: “Beefmaster's experienced management team, value-added vertical integration, trusted brand and opportunities for even greater growth makes it an attractive investment opportunity for One Thousand & One Voices.”

“Our model of leveraging the Three-Dimensional Capital of leading family offices will contribute to value creation for Beefmaster, itself a family-held business, especially as demand of protein sources grows.”

One Thousand & One Voices was launched in May of last year in order for families to capture a small slice of Africa's total private equity pie, which is estimated to be worth $20 billion.