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FB Roundup: Brunello Cucinelli, Walmart, and L'Oreal

By Alexandra Newlove

Brunello Cucinelli sells stake to fund foundation

Italian designer Brunello Cucinelli has sold 6% of his eponymous fashion house for nearly €100 million ($122 million), putting the money into his family foundation.

The shares, sold via an accelerated book build mainly to US institutional investors, mean the Cucinelli family—Brunello, his wife Federica and two daughters Camilla and Carolina—now own 51% of the business.

The Brunello and Federica Cucinelli Foundation is focused mainly on the wellbeing of Solomeo, the small Italian town where the brand is headquartered.

Cucinelli told the Financial Times his family intended to remain majority shareholders of the company he founded 40 years ago.

Before the company floated in 2011, the family donated 20% of earnings to the foundation, but now felt it was unfair on its global shareholders to use profits for their philanthropy, especially given the local focus of the foundation. The 6% sell-off was designed to separate the foundation from the business.

Brunello Cucinelli had revenues of €456 million ($558 million) in 2016, up 10% from the year prior, exceeding the average luxury fashion house growth of 5%.

Walmart hikes wages, cuts staff

Walmart is hiking the wages of its lowest-paid employees, though the announcement has been tarnished by news it may lay off thousands as it closes more than 60 stores.

The company said more than one million workers would take home $11 an hour from February, compared to the current minimum rate of $10.

The raise was a way of sharing cuts afforded to it by Trump's new tax plan, and Walmart was also distributing bonuses, and improving parental leave benefits.

However, Business Insiderreported the company was also set to close 63 Sam's Club stores, affecting up to 9,400 employees.

Many of these workers will be redeployed to other stores, and some of the closed stores will be converted into e-commerce distribution centres, where employees will be able to re-apply for their jobs.

Walmart is controlled by the Walton family, who are worth an estimated $130 billion.

L'Oreal is growing Chinese skin

The world's largest beauty company, L'Oreal, is growing reconstructured skin in its Shanghai laboratory, as it aims to cater to its fastest-growing market.

L'Oreal, 33% owned by the Bettencourt family, is the first cosmetics company to develop lab-grown Chinese skin, which contains live cells from donors, Bloomberg reported.

L'Oréal has been growing European skin for many years, but the skin of different ethnicities tends to react differently to beauty products.

While the practice sounds macabre, it is part of a push to cut back animal testing in the Chinese beauty industry.

Cosmetic sales in China are forecast to exceed $40 billion in the next three years, and L'Oreal's sales there are growing about twice as fast as in the US.

The French beauty multinational turns over more than $32 billion a year.

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