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FB Roundup: Ford, Lotte, and trade tariffs

By Alexandra Newlove

Ford creates new self-drive company

Ford is to morph its self-driving vehicles arm into its own company, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, investing $4 billion into the venture over the next five years.

It follows a similar move by General Motors, which launched “GM Cruise” late last year. Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president autonomous vehicles and electrification, will be chief executive of the new LLC, which is structured to allow third party investors.

Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford and great-grandson of industrial icon and founder Henry Ford, told CBS earlier this year he expected his company’s self-drive cars would not be ready until 2021.

“There's been a lot of over-promising and I think a lot of misinformation that's been out there. It's really important that we get it right, rather than get it quickly,” Ford said.

The Ford family own 1% of the equity and 40% of the voting shares of Ford Motor Company. The group turned over $158 billion last year.

Lotte still sweet for jailed director

South Korea’s confectionery giant Lotte Group will hold on to jailed director Shin Dong-bin, as the board voting down his older brother’s motion to dump him.

Lotte’s founder’s sons have battled for control of the $74 billion-per-year chaebol for several years, and the older Shin Dong-joo last month tabled two motions before Lotte’s Japanese holding company, one to dismiss his brother and another to appoint himself as a board member.

Shin Dong-bin, pictured, was imprisoned for two-and-a-half years in February, for bribing the former South Korean president to win a lucrative deal. His 95-year-old father and Lotte founder Shin Kyuk-ho was also jailed in late 2017 for embezzlement.

The Korean-Japanese company also hit headlines this month with its hire of 200 new factory workers to make up for lost productivity, as the South Korean government cut the maximum 68-hour work week back to 52.

Lotte has been run by the Shin family since it was established by Shin Kyuk-ho in 1948. Its 90 businesses include confectionery, hotels, food, retail, financial services, heavy chemicals, electronics, IT, construction, and publishing.

Family dynasties uneasy over Trump trade

Some of the world’s largest family businesses are voicing concern that President Donald Trump’s penchant for trade tariffs will impact their bottom line.

Despite a record start to 2018, Bernard Arnault, LVMH chief executive, pictured, said his family’s company remains concerned about “geopolitical uncertainties”.

His chief financial officer, Jean-Jacques Guiony, then told the Financial Times he was “worried” about trade wars, despite strong performance across the luxury group’s businesses and record €21.8 billion ($25.5 billion) revenue in the first half of 2018, up 12% on last year.

Meanwhile liquor giant Brown-Forman reported its full financial year results along with concerns about “potential retaliatory tariffs” making it difficult to predict future business.

Brown-Forman, whose brands include Jack Daniel’s, Finlandia, and Chombord, reported revenue growth of 8% to $3.24 billion. The company, 70% controlled by the Brown family, also recently announced a $200 million share buy-back and the impending retirement of its chief executive Paul Varga.

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