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FB Roundup: Carl-Clemens Veltins, Ken Mulvany, Emperor Naruhito

FB Roundup: Carl-Clemens Veltins, Ken Mulvany, Emperor Naruhito
In this week’s FB Roundup, Carl-Clemens Veltins sues his sisters for a share of their family’s German brewing dynasty; Ken Mulvany aims to return to lead BenevolentAI; and Emperor Naruhito leads Japan’s imperial family in their Instagram debut.
By Glen Ferris
Carl-Clemens Veltins
Carl-Clemens Veltins

Carl-Clemens Veltins sues his sisters for a share of their family’s German brewing dynasty
Carl-Clemens Veltins, the son of a German brewing dynasty, is suing his sisters Susanne and Frauke after claiming their mother “tricked him into signing away his inheritance the morning after his ‘boozy’ 18th birthday party”.

As reported by The Mail Online, Carl-Clemens claims their mother ‘immorally’ cheated him out of a large inheritance formed in part by family ownership of, Veltins Brewery, one of Germany's most successful beermakers.

Carl-Clemens claims he was “horrified to learn upon the death of his mother Rosemarie in 1994 that he had been written out of the will. Instead, the entire inheritance was awarded to his sisters Susanne and Frauke, the former of whom continues to lead the Veltins family empire and has been listed as a billionaire by Forbes.” 

The Mail reports that “when perusing the records of his family’s estate eight years ago, he discovered much to his chagrin that he had mistakenly relinquished his rights to a third of the family business. 

“This, he claims, happened the morning after his 18th birthday, when his mother drove him to a notary and told him to sign a scrap of paper that she said was simply ‘to avoid the brewery having to be sold if the heirs claimed their shares’.”

Lawyers working on behalf of Carl-Clemens Veltins allege that his mother’s ‘immoral and void’ actions mean the Veltins sisters owe their client a third of the family’s money. If upheld, Carl-Clemens’ claims could see him awarded a ‘nine-figure fortune’. 

He has long been labelled the Veltins family ‘black sheep’ by German media, due to a series of events, including “the burglary of his own mother’s villa in 1984 and a string of convictions for the possession and dealing of cocaine, as well as illegal possession of a Kalashnikov automatic rifle he bought from Soviet soldiers after launching a nightclub in the city of Leipzig following the collapse of the Berlin wall.”

“I was taken for a ride back then,” Carl-Clemens told German outlet Focus. “Essentially, it was about me foregoing my claim to the family business and the shares I am owed so that the brewery wouldn't have to be sold to pay out other family members in the event that my mother died… What son believes that his mother will betray him?”

“I was always an adventurous man, I liked taking risks,” he said in a separate interview with Bild. “If I had got more attention as a ten-year-old, my path may have been a different one. My CV is certainly not one that tells the story of a saint. Looking back, I’m really not proud of a lot of the things that happened. But that doesn’t mean that my family was allowed to ignore me the way they did. I would actually have been entitled to a third of the company shares. I didn’t get anything from it.”

In a passage from Rosemarie’s will, quoted by German business outlet Handelsblatt, the former Veltins CEO said that the five million marks paid her son prior to her death was ‘sufficient’: “My son Carl-Clemens Veltins has already received sufficient donations from me during his lifetime, so that, taking all the circumstances into account, further donations to him by way of inheritance or legacy are not justified. He and his descendants are excluded from legal succession,” the will reportedly states. 

Ken Mulvany
Ken Mulvany

Ken Mulvany aims to return to lead drug developer BenevolentAI
Ken Mulvany, the British serial entrepreneur and investor who founded BenevolentAI in 2013, wants to return as executive chairman and oust most of the current board after seeing its shares slump by over 90%, according to a report by Sky News.

Mulvany has written to the board of the artificial intelligence company to seek the removal of most of its board and the appointment of a new slate of directors - including himself as executive chairman. This comes more than 18 months after he stepped down from its board in the wake of its listing on the Euronext exchange in Amsterdam.

BenevolentAI went public with a valuation of more than £1 billion by combining with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) established by prominent investment bankers Michael and Yoel Zaoui. However, as Sky News reports, “its shares have since crashed by over 90%, leaving it with a market valuation of less than 100 million Euros.”

In the letter to Francois Nader, BenevolentAI’s current chairman, Mulvany said he had “raised serious concerns about the company’s cost management, business development resourcing, strategy, investor relations and governance.”

Sources close to the situation said Mulvany was seeking to remove most of BenevolentAI’s existing board, including Dr Nader, and appoint a group of directors who would “aim to strengthen governance and accountability, invigorate the company's business development, sharpen its strategic focus, offer clear market communication, and rebuild confidence among our investors and stakeholders.”

Mulvany is understood to remain the largest shareholder in the company with a stake of over 23% and believes it should be much more valuable as a listed business given its growth potential.

“It is with a clear vision for the transformative potential of BenevolentAI that I will seek shareholder support at the upcoming AGM,” he wrote. “We are at the helm of an enterprise that has the potential to create breakthroughs in AI-driven drug discovery and development that become cornerstones of patient care.

“Let us unite in this endeavour, because it matters - to patients, to our shareholders, and the legacy we aspire to build.”

Emperor Naruhito
Emperor Naruhito

Emperor Naruhito leads Japan’s imperial family in Instagram debut
Japan’s famously private imperial family have launched their first-ever Instagram account in an effort to shake off their reclusive image.

Since launching, the account, which now has more than 350,000 followers after it posted 60 photos and five videos on its first day, shows Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako and their 22-year-old daughter Princess Aiko as they marked New Year’s Day.

Other posts included the imperial couple’s meetings with foreign dignitaries, including Brunei Crown Prince Haji al Muhtadee Billah and his wife.

Sky News reports that the account does not follow anyone nor interact with the public and users cannot comment on posts and can only press the ‘like’ button.

The move is believed to have taken place in an effort to reach more members of the public after Emperor Naruhito’s father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito’s abdication in 2019 put a spotlight on the perception that the Japanese imperial family belonged to a ‘bygone age’. 

Sky News reports that “the palace agency became cautious after the Emperor’s niece Mako Komuro and her commoner husband faced a severe backlash on social media and in tabloids following concerns over her mother-in-law’s financial situation, causing her marriage to be delayed.”

The Japanese imperial family's social media debut comes 15 years after Britain's royal family joined X, formerly Twitter, in 2009.

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