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FB Roundup: Andreas and Thomas Struengmann, Arora brothers, Gina Rinehart

FB Roundup: Andreas and Thomas Struengmann, Arora brothers, Gina Rinehart
In this week’s FB Roundup, Andreas and Thomas Struengmann buy Schuelke & Mayr GmbH in a $1.5 billion deal; the Arora brothers look to capitalise on the collapse of Wilko; and Australia's richest person is accused of defrauding her children.
By Glen Ferris
Andreas and Thomas Struengmann

Andreas and Thomas Struengmann buy Schuelke & Mayr GmbH in a $1.5 billion deal
The billionaire German brothers who made a fortune investing in a Covid-19 vaccine have agreed to acquire hand sanitiser manufacturer Schuelke & Mayr GmbH.

A consortium led by Andreas and Thomas Struengmanns’ family office, Athos Service (which oversees the brothers’ $10 billion combined stake in BioNTech SE, the German firm that developed a Covid-19 vaccine with Pfizer Inc), shepherded the purchase from previous owners EQT AB, valuing the German company at €1.4 billion, according to a Bloomberg News report.

The sale, which is expected to close in the final quarter of 2023, further strengthens the Struengmanns’ interests in the medical services field. Schuelke is present in more than 100 countries and “makes disinfectants for hands, skin and surfaces, as well as wound antisepsis products”, according to the EQT website.

As reported by The National, “before the Schuelke deal, the Struengmanns most recently dealt with EQT in December, 2022, to buy a stake from the private equity company in SHL Medical, a Swiss provider of drug-delivery solutions.

“In addition, they invested with EQT for the 2019 purchase of Nestle’s skin health unit, valuing it at $11.7 billion, along with a similar deal two years earlier for US biotechnology company Certara.”

The 73-year-old brothers are worth a combined $24 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, having also diversified their wealth into real estate, energy and finance.

Arora brothers look to capitalise on Wilko collapse
The billionaire co-owner siblings of UK discount chain B&M are reportedly eyeing up a purchase of the at-risk budget retailer Wilko.

According to The Daily Mail, Simon, Bobby and Robin Arora are preparing to bid against UK brands such as Poundland, Home Bargains and The Range to save the high street chain from collapse before a deadline set by Wilko’s administrators, PwC.

Wilko, which was founded in Leicester by James Kemsey Wilkinson in 1930 and partially remains in the ownership of the founding family, said last week it was closing its doors, putting 400 stores and 12,500 jobs at risk. As quoted by The Daily Mail, Deutsche Bank analysts predicted that “The Wilko administration offers further opportunity for B&M to take market share”, with a forecasted £200 million sales boost.

Simon Arora [pictured above] had reportedly been set to retire from the family firm at the end of 2023 but has decided to stay on until “at least March 2026”, as confirmed by a company statement.

Gina Rinehart

Australia's richest person accused of defrauding her children
Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart has been accused of “deliberately destroying” the wishes of her late father and defrauding her children during a multi-billion-dollar trial.

“We don't use the word fraud lightly,” said Christopher Withers, the lead lawyer for Rinehart’s two eldest children John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart, during a civil trial in Western Australia.

“We say the evidence that fraud was perpetuated by Gina on her children is overwhelming,” said Withers, referring to claims that there is clear evidence mining licences were unlawfully transferred to Hancock Prospecting and a subsidiary against her late father Lang Hancock’s wishes after he died in 1992.

As reported by The Guardian, Withers “devised a seven-step fraud scheme that allegedly started two months after her father died” and included attempts “to avoid accruing capital gains tax or stamp duty liability.”

The court heard that, in a 1988 agreement signed by Lang Hancock, Rinehart’s children were to be the principal benefactors of his efforts to develop an iron ore mine at Hope Downs [one of Australia’s largest and most successful iron ore mine complexes] and to become 49% shareholders in Hancock Prospecting.

“Lang was simply not prepared to give Gina everything she wanted, which was everything,” Withers said. “He wanted to put in place arrangements that would provide for his grandchildren.

“The events after Lang died constitute an egregious fraud orchestrated by Gina and carried out by people who did whatever Gina wanted without questioning,” he continued.

As reported by Australia’s The New Daily, “the claims were made in a high-stakes legal ‘stoush’ [Australian slang for ‘fight’] in Perth in which Rinehart's company and her children are defending the claims of Wright Prospecting and DFD Rhodes, the family company of the late prospector Don Rhodes who say they are entitled to a 1.25% royalty share of the Hope Downs production.

“Rinehart, the executive chair of Hancock Prospecting, secured the development of the mines after signing a deal in 2005 with Rio Tinto - which has a 50% stake in the project.”

The trial continues.

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