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FB Roundup: Builders Vision, Chick-fil-A, Ferrero Group

By James Beech

Walmart heir Lukas Walton makes impact investments in food and environment sustainability

Lukas Walton, a next generation member of the Walmart dynasty, has launched a new impact investing platform inspired by the all-natural diet he says helped him recover from cancer as a child.

Billionaire Walton, (pictured left), 35, is the discreet third generation member of Walmart, the world’s largest publicly traded family-owned business. Walton has emerged as the founder and chief executive of Builders Vision. The privately-held organisation is billed as an impact platform to help organisations and people “build a more humane and healthy planet.”

The platform’s philanthropic and investment focus areas include sustainable food and agriculture, healthy oceans, renewable energy and “thriving communities”.

Builders Vision said Walton’s passion for protecting the environment and pursuing sustainable solutions began when he was diagnosed with a rare cancer at the age of three.

“After he didn't respond to rounds of chemotherapy, his mother Christy fed him an all-natural diet that contributed to his recovery from the disease,” the organisation said.

His parents, Christy and the late John T Walton (pictured right), started Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center, a hands-on educational community property to promote organic gardening, environmental stewardship and nutrition, across 5ha in California.

Walton attended Colorado College where he majored in environmental science and economics and went on to study energy efficiency and hydrological and geothermal energy in Iceland.

Before the launch of Builders Vision, Walton backed Seed2Growth Ventures (S2G), a Chicago-based multi-stage agriculture and food venture capital group, founded in 2014.

Walton is the grandson of Helen and Sam Walton, founders of the Walton Family Foundation and Walmart, the $559 billion retail giant headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas. The next-gen is said to have inherited a third of the estate of his late father and is worth $17.2 billion.

In addition to Builders Vision, Walton serves as chairman of the environmental committee of the Walton Family Foundation and chairman of the Walton Conservation Coalition.

Chick-fil-A heiress joins Cathy family’s billionaire ranks

Trudy Cathy White (pictured), heiress to the US family-owned fast food chain Chick-fil-A, has become the third billionaire in the family.

The only daughter of the chain’s late founder, S Truett Cathy (pictured below), is worth an estimated $5.5 billion. She makes her debut, tied with her brothers at the 200th position, in this year’s Forbes 400 list of the richest people in the United States.

Trudy Cathy White joined brothers Dan Cathy, 68, chairman, president and chief executive, and Donald “Bubba” Cathy, 67, executive vice president, in being worth an estimated $5.5 billion each, according to the publication. Each owns more than 10% of the fast food chain, which earned $11.3 billion in sales in 2019.

Founder S Truett Cathy was a philanthropist, author of six books and devout Southern Baptist who died in 2014 at the age 93. His wife, Jeannette Cathy, died a year later at the age of 92. The childhood sweethearts were married for 65 years and were survived by their three children, 12 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.

Cathy opened an Atlanta diner called The Dwarf Grill, in reference to its size, later renamed The Dwarf House, in 1946. The family opened its first Chick-fil-A restaurant, with a chicken sandwich its lead menu item, in Atlanta's Greenbriar Shopping Center in 1967. The family business is now the third-largest fast food chain in the United States. It has 2,600 franchised and company-operated quick-service chicken restaurants in North America.

Trudy Cathy White began working for the family business at the age of 19. She became an operator of a new Chick-fil-A restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama, the youngest operator at that time. She met her future husband, John White, when they were fellow Samford students working at a restaurant. The couple served with the International Mission Board for 20 years, 10 as missionaries in Brazil.

The Whites have been married for 40 years and have four children and 15 grandchildren of their own. They are co-founders of the faith-based charitable organisations Lifeshape and Impact 360 Institute.

Family-owned Ferrero sweetens investments in US and UK

Ferrero, the Italian family business renowned for making the hazelnut spread Nutella, is pursuing its aggressive growth strategy by building its first $75 million chocolate factory outside of Europe and recruiting more factory workers in the United Kingdom.

The $14.6 billion Ferrero Group broke ground on a new 6,500 sq m chocolate processing facility in Bloomington, Illinois this month. The plant under the group's North America division will be Ferrero's third facility worldwide that processes chocolate. Set to open in 2023, the new facility is an expansion of Ferrero's existing Bloomington manufacturing centre and will produce chocolate for Ferrero products for the North American market.

Across the Atlantic, Ferrero called for new staff to work at its Alfreton factory, home of the British Thorntons brand, which was acquired by the group for $177 million in 2015. In its recruitment drive, the group touted its family ownership as a virtue as an employer. It offers an in-house apprenticeship programme with courses in food technology, engineering and team leadership. Ferrero employs almost 35,000 staff members in 55 countries to sell in more than 170.

Billionaire Giovanni Ferrero (pictured above), 57, as the third-generation executive chairman, is ramping up Ferrero’s rivalry with Nestle, Hershey, Mondelez International and Lindt & Spruengli in branded chocolate and confectionery products. Ferrero became a leader in the sweet biscuits market with its $509 million acquisition of the British company Burton’s Biscuits in the summer of 2021, only months after the group bought Burton’s UK rival Fox’s Biscuits for $318 million.

Giovanni Ferrero shared the title and split the duties of group chief executive with his elder brother Pietro after they succeeded their father, the late Michele Ferrero (pictured right), in 1997. Giovanni Ferrero took sole charge when Pietro died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 47 while cycling in South Africa in 2011. The tycoon and his family are the wealthiest in Italy with a fortune of $34.3 billion.

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