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FB Roundup: Comcast, top chief executives, and McCain

By Alexandra Newlove

Family-backed bidders court 21st Century Fox

A number of family and non-family backed media companies have been linked with the potential acquisition of parts of 21st Century Fox, as rumours swirl around the potential break-up of the Murdoch family's media empire.

Family-controlled Comcast, and non-family controlled Verizon have both expressed interest in the group's entertainment assets. Comcast is headed by chairman Brian Roberts. It was founded in 1963 by his father Ralph Roberts, along with Daniel Aaron, and Julian Brodsky. The Roberts family controls one-third of the shareholder votes in the company, which posted annual revenues of $80 billion in 2016.

It comes as Rupert Murdoch has admitted to the News Corp AGM that it is not looking to expand its newspaper empire, conceding digital advertising “has been tremendously damaging to print” and some of his papers were struggling. The Murdoch family controls almost 40% of News Corp voting shares, while owning just 12%, with annual revenues dropping to $8.14 billion in 2017.

ESG focus puts Inditex CE on top

The chief executive of family fashion giant Inditex, Pablo Isla, has topped the list of best-performing chief executives thanks to his focus on ethical consumerism and a non-hierarchical leadership style.

The list, compiled by Harvard Business Review, considered performance across the executives' entire tenure looking at profits as well as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors.  

Isla, who has held his post since 2005 is known for his introverted and humble leadership style.

He has overseen rapid expansion at the $24-billion-a-year fashion conglomerate, opening on average, one store a day, and turning it into Spain's most valuable company with brands including Zara, Pull&Bear, Bershka, Stradivarius and Oysho.

However, HBR said Isla was ranked 18th on financial performance, and it was the company's focus on ESG factors propelled him to the top. Inditex was lauded for its stringent supply chain auditing and fabric recycling policies.

“At headquarters [Isla] prefers management by walking around over holding formal meetings—part of his attempt to maintain an entrepreneurial, small-company culture even as the firm has grown very large,” HBR reported.

The retailer was founded in 1963 by billionaire Amancio Ortega and then-wife Rosalia Mera. The family retains a controlling stake and Ortega's daughter is expected to join the company.

Other family business executives near the top of the HBR list include Bernard Arnault of LVMH (5th) and Martin Bouygues of Bouygues (6th).

Sixty years and billions of potatoes

A $9-billion-a-year frozen food giant founded by four potato-farmer brothers is celebrating its 60th birthday by completing a $1 billion upgrade of its plants and facilities.

In 1957, the McCain brothers, Harrison, Wallace, Andrew, and Robert, founded the company in their hometown of Florenceville, Canada. The company created the first-ever frozen potato chip and in Canada alone processes 4.5 billion potatoes a year. It has more than 17,000 staff around the world.

Today McCain is still family owned, with four family members on the board.

More than $1 billion has been spent since the start of 2016 upgrading infrastructure, investing in new technology and building plants USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, France, Belgium, Argentina, Colombia and India

Shai Altman, president of McCain Foods Canada, told Canada Business the investment “captures the company's long-term strategic thinking, focus on its core values, and commitment to sustainable growth”.

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