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FB Roundup: Bollore, IKEA, and Heineken

By Susan Lingeswaran

Vincent Bollore to be replaced by son as Vivendi board member

Billionaire Vincent Bollore, who is currently under investigation for his business dealings in Africa, will step down from the board of French telecoms giant Vivendi and be replaced by his son Cyrille.

In a statement announcing its full-year results, Vivendi—whose assets include Universal Music Group and French communications company Havas—said it will ask shareholders to appoint Bollore’s son Cyrille Bollore (pictured) on the group’s supervisory board at its annual meeting in April.

Cyrille Bollore runs the transport and logistics division at the family holding company, Bollore Group.

 “The decision [to step down] was Vincent’s,” Arnaud de Puyfontaine, Vivendi’s chief executive, said on a call with Reuters analysts.

“There’s a new generation which is coming and new blood coming. The most important thing is that we have the long term commitment of our number one shareholder.”

Bollore, 66, had previously pledged to hand over all his businesses to his four children by 2022.

However, plans were accelerated last April after Bollore was placed under a formal investigation related to alleged bribery of foreign officials in Africa—an accusation he has denied.

Later that month, at Vivendi’s general meeting, Bollore surprised shareholders by announcing he was stepping down as chairman and would be replaced by his son Yannick.

Vincent Bollore runs his family’s conglomerate Bollore Group as president and chief executive. It was founded in 1822 as a paper manufacturer for cigarette wrappers and bibles. Bollore took control of the struggling group in 1981 and turned it into a global giant. The group’s principal activities are wide-ranging, from transport and logistics to media, advertising and electric vehicles. He has four children, Sebastien, Yannick, Cyrille and Marie, who all work in different aspects of the group’s activities. In 2017, Bollore Group reported an annual turnover of €18.3 billion ($20.7 billion), which included €8.9 billion ($10 billion) of turnover at Vivendi.

Ikea eyes launch of sales platform that includes rival products

IKEA, the world’s biggest furniture retailer, is exploring the possibility of launching a website that sells its own furniture alongside rivals’ products as it looks to gain a stronger foothold in e-commerce.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Torbjorn Loof, chief executive of Inter Ikea, said he believed there is an opportunity to launch a platform that sits between IKEA’s own website and general third-party websites such as Amazon, which sell almost everything.

While the firm was not yet in talks with any of its competitors, Loof said the retailer is keen to be involved in the creation of any furniture-focused sales platform.

“You like to control your own destiny so in that sense if you have the size and the possibility that’s true [that IKEA would like to create it],” Loof said.

“I think in the next five, 10 years, we will see what we now call the platform developing.”

He singled out German site Zalando, which has become Europe’s biggest online fashion retailer and sells multiple brands, none of whom are owners of the website, as an example of how it could be achieved.

The comments comes as the company is about to embark on a trial of selling its own items on some third-party sites, such as Alibaba or Amazon.

The idea forms a part of an overhaul of the 75-year-old business, which is on a mission to remain relevant amid changing shopping habits.

IKEA is controlled, though not owned, by the three sons of recently-deceased founder Ingvar Kamprad (pictured with sons Peter, Jonas, and Mathias), via a famously complex series of foundations. Its revenue was more than $40 billion in 2016.

Peter, 53, is the chairman of the supervisory board of Ikano Group, which runs a bank, insurance company and property company, and also owns IKEA stores in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Jonas, 51, sits on the supervisory board of Ikano Group and Mathias, 48, sits on the supervisory board of Inter IKEA, Ikano Group, and is also on the supervisory board of the Interogo Foundation—the enterprise foundation which ultimately controls Inter IKEA.

Heineken posts rising profits on the back of strong sales boost

Heineken, the world’s second-largest beer maker, says it sees no sign of a slowdown in the year ahead, as it forecast higher profits on the back of increased demand for more expensive drinks and rising beer prices.

The Dutch brewing giant’s organic operating profit hit €3.8 billion ($4.3 billion) in 2018, rising 6.4% from the previous 12 months.

Meanwhile, net revenue increased 6.1% to €26.8 billion ($30.3 billion), exceeding analysts’ estimates.

The company, which also owns Amstel, Tiger and Sol lagers, as well as Strongbow cider, said looking ahead to the coming year, it expects continued economic volatility, but improved revenue, driven by increased beer sales, higher prices, and consumers trading up to more expensive drinks.

“Going into 2019, we expect the environment to remain uncertain and volatile," Jean-Francois Boxmeer, Heineken chief executive, said.

"Overall, we anticipate our operating profit to grow by mid-single digit on an organic basis."

Boxmeer said the company would challenge the market leader AB InBev with acquisitions in China and Latin America, giving it access to new distribution networks that are lifting volume.

Heineken bought Brazil’s second-biggest brewer in 2017 when it bought Kirin Holdings’ business there for about $600 million, giving it control of brands including, Schincariol, Devassa, and Eisenbahn.

Last year, the company bought a $3.1 billion stake in China Resources Beer Holding—the country’s top brewer, in a bid to challenge rival family-owned AB InBev’s position as the largest foreign beer maker in the world’s biggest market.

The Heineken brewing company was founded in 1864 by Gerald Adriaan Heineken. Although no longer involved in day-to-day management, the Heineken family retains influence over the company it founded through its 50% ownership in Heineken Holding, which holds a 50% stake in Heineken.

The company’s executive director, Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken (pictured) inherited a 23% controlling stake in Heineken from her late father, long-time chief executive Freddy Heineken. Her oldest son Alexander joined the board of Heineken Holding in 2013 and her other two children Louisa and Charles have previously expressed an interest in the family business.

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