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FB Roundup: Andrew and Nicola Forrest, Henry Cheng; Christian Angermayer

FB Roundup: Andrew and Nicola Forrest, Henry Cheng; Christian Angermayer
In this week’s FB Roundup, Andrew and Nicola Forrest buy the Australian hatmaker Akubra; Henry Cheng casts doubts over his family’s succession plans; and Christian Angermayer sets up new offices in Abu Dhabi.
By Glen Ferris
Nicola Forrest
Dr Nicola Forrest (courtesy of the Forrest Research Foundation)

Andrew and Nicola Forrest buy Australian hatmaker Akubra
Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest and his estranged wife Nicola have further diversified their shared portfolio with the purchase of the family-owned hatmaker Akubra.

The Forrests’ private investment firm Tattarang snapped up the iconic millinery firm, which has been owned by the Keir family for more than 147 years after being established in Hobart in 1876.

According to The Guardian, “the acquisition will ensure the brand remains Australian-owned and locally made, with Tattarang committing to continue manufacturing in Kempsey on the New South Wales north coast.”

The Akubra purchase marks a further Forrest foray into the world of fashion and textiles after they bought Australian boots brand RM Williams in October 2020. As a result of that buyout, RM Williams has since hired almost 500 additional staff.

“We thought long and hard about selling the business after five generations of family ownership and, after we saw how the Forrests have invested in local manufacturing with RM Williams, we decided they were the right custodians for Akubra,” said outgoing chairman Stephen Keir IV said in a statement.

“The image of my father’s tireless energy and perseverance, measured by the sweat on his Akubra, remains etched in my memory,” said the New South Wales-born Nicola Forrest who became Australia’s second-richest woman after splitting from Andrew Forrest earlier this year. “An Akubra has always been part of my life and as a new custodian I am excited to help new generations discover this treasured Australian icon.”

Henry Cheng
Henry Cheng

Henry Cheng casts doubts over succession plans
One of Hong Kong’s leading families have seen their succession plans put in doubt after the billionaire property developer Henry Cheng says his “family business is still looking for a successor”. 

It has long been believed that Henry Cheng’s oldest son, Adrian, would take over the property and retailing empire, but his 76-year-old father has, according to Bloomberg, said “he is observing who may be the family’s next leader, according to local media reports that cited a television interview over the weekend.”

Adrian Cheng is currently chief executive officer of New World Development and has grown the Hong Kong real estate firm with “investments including a USD $2.6 billion mega mall-office complex next to the city’s airport and multiple projects in mainland China. The expansion has turned New World into the most indebted developer among its bigger peers. Its high leverage, combined with rising interest rates and the rippling effect of a property slump in mainland China, has raised concerns among investors.”

It is believed Henry Cheng made the statement as his family has businesses in many different sectors and, as a result, has been unable to find an individual to take interests forward as a whole. At least nine family members work in the group’s network, including Adrian Cheng and his sister Sonia Cheng, who is CEO of Rosewood Hotel Group.

Henry Cheng, who with a net worth of $21.6 billion is Hong Kong’s third-richest person (according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index), is the elder son of Cheng Yu-tung who founded the Hong Kong-listed New World Development and built the family fortune from jewellery and real estate. 

Christian Angermayer
Christian Angermayer

Christian Angermayer sets up new offices in Abu Dhabi
The family office of serial entrepreneur and investor Christian Angermayer has joined billionaire hedge fund manager Sir Christopher Hohn in setting up new offices in Abu Dhabi.

According to Bloomberg, the increased presence in Abu Dhabi will allow Sir Christopher’s TCI Fund Management, a $60 billion investment company, to build key relationships across the region in continuing efforts to catalyse climate action within the private finance sector.

“The Middle East is a vital market for the investment management industry, both from a talent and asset growth perspective, as well as a critical partner in global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and climate change,” said Sir Christopher in a statement.

Angermayer’s private investment firm Apeiron Investment Group, meanwhile, is also setting up its regional headquarters at Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), “one of the fastest growing international financial hubs in the Middle East,” according to Bloomberg. 

“Apeiron’s expansion into the UAE represents a significant milestone in Apeiron’s growth strategy and I am excited about what we can do from Abu Dhabi in sectors like biotech, synthetic biology, FinTech and natural resources,” said Angermayer. “The move demonstrates Apeiron’s commitment to investing in innovative businesses and creating opportunities for local talent.”

Earlier this year, Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of American investment management firm Bridgewater Associates, set up a branch of his family office in ADGM, having previously announced that he plans to focus on running his family office full time after leaving the world’s largest hedge fund last year.

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