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FB Roundup: Akka Technologies, Walmart, and Mars

By Alexandra Newlove

Akka enters US aerospace

The rapidly growing Akka Technologies is making good on its promise to conquer the US, acquiring PDS Tech for an undisclosed sum.

Akka’s revenue has tripled over the last decade, with earnings of €1.33 billion ($1.57 billion) last year. As part of its CLEAR 2022 strategic plan, the engineering and technology consultancy is aiming to make the US its third pillar market, alongside France and Germany. PDS reported revenue of $260 million last year and specialises in aerospace, as well as providing other engineering and technology services.

“This deal will allow AKKA to lay the foundations for its diversification into the aerospace sector in the United States, offering it unparalleled access to major OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) with a unique recruiting tool,” Akka said in a statement.

Maurice Ricci, chairman and chief executive, founded the company 30 years ago, soon bringing on board his brother Jean-Franck and later, other family members as directors.

Ricci said the deal offered “compelling industrial logic”.

Walmart sells majority of Brazil business

The world’s largest family business—and largest company overall—is selling a majority stake of its Brazil business.

Walmart, 51% owned by the founding Walton family, announced on 4 June that private equity firm Advent International would buy 80% of its Brazilian holdings. Walmart would retain 20% and the deal was subject to regulatory approval.

Advent has operated in Brazil for 20 years. It is active in the retail, consumer and leisure segments worldwide and has completed 75 investments in 22 countries.

Walmart has been retreating from other regions including India, Germany, South Korea, and the UK, as per its recent sale of a majority stake in UK supermarket Asda to competitor Sainsbury’s.

The Financial Times reported in April that the retail giant, which generated $480 billion in sales in 2017, was “focusing on the fastest-growing international opportunities, and working to shore up its home base, in the face of intense new rivalry from Amazon in ecommerce”.

Mars invests $1 billion in sustainability

Mars, closely held by the eponymous family, is spending more than $1 billion on sustainability initiatives with the expectation this will increase profits.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Mars chief procurement and sustainability officer Barry Parkin said: “We’re going to get a payback on that billion several times over.”

Initiatives will include reducing energy and water use, streamlining supply chains in an attempt to benefit farmers, and recreating recipes to include only natural ingredients.

“It’s the end of the commodity era, the nature of a commodity is that it’s the same everywhere and you can just buy on price and no one asked or knew where it came from,” Parkin told Bloomberg. “That’s no longer acceptable.”

Mars, best known for its confectionery but with interests in pet care, drinks, flavour science, and health food, turned over about $35 billion in 2016. Read our Icon profile of Forrest E Mars Jr here.

Interested in sustainability? Consider attending Campden Wealth’s North American Family Impact Investing Conference.

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