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FB Roundup: James Murdoch, Musgrave Group and Henkel

By James Beech

Next gen James Murdoch’s burning rift with father’s media empire

James Murdoch, heir of Rupert Murdoch, has publicly criticised his family’s media empire for climate change denial as lethal bushfires blaze in Australia.

The 47-year-old younger son (pictured) took aim at his 88-year-old Australian-born father who owns conservative news platforms News Corp, Fox News and Sky News. James said he and his wife Kathryn felt “frustration” with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the environmental issue in a statement to The Daily Beast.

“They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary,” they said.

The rebuke surprised some media watchers as James remained a director of the AUD $9 billion ($6.2 billion) News Corp, alongside elder brother Lachlan Murdoch, as co-chairman, and their father Rupert, as executive chairman. It was seen as the latest sign of a growing rift between the liberal next-gen and the right-wing family business founder.

Rupert Murdoch bestowed up to $2 billion from a family trust he controls on each of his six children—Lachlan, James, Elisabeth, Prudence, Grace and Chloe—after the $71 billion sale of Murdoch’s Fox movie studio and cable channels to Disney in 2018.

After tenures at his father’s media subsidiaries and once considered the heir apparent, James distanced himself from the family business by using his endowment to launch his own tech and media investment company Lupa Systems.

Revamped Musgrave Group snaps up drinks distributor

Award-winning Irish family business Musgrave Group has acquired an $86.2 million Northern Irish beverage distributor alongside its $36 million expansion and revamp.

The sixth-generation food retail, wholesale and foodservice company announced it has agreed to acquire the brand and company assets of Drinks Inc, which will continue to trade as a stand-alone business.

Musgrave Group said the 19-year-old Belfast based Drinks Inc was one of the largest and fastest growing independent drinks distributors on the island of Ireland. With a portfolio of more than 1,000 products covering the spirits, wines, beer and soft drink categories, Drinks Inc was also the exclusive agent for premium brands and wineries including BrewDog, Dingle Distillery and the UK’s number one wine brand Isla Negra.

Chris Musgrave (pictured), vice chairman at Musgrave, said the deal was an excellent strategic fit for the group and will strengthen its existing offer to the market.

“The acquisition forms part of our overarching Growing Good Business strategy to deliver long term sustainable growth and follows a £28 million investment programme to open 20 additional stores and revamp 40 existing stores in Northern Ireland that was announced earlier this year.

“I look forward to Drinks Inc joining our expanding portfolio of successful brands and to supporting the business to bring it to the next level of growth.”

Musgrave Group took home the Top Family Business of the Year Award from the CampdenFB European Families in Business Awards in Madrid in 2018 (pictured).

World Economic Forum hails Henkel as frontrunner in the fourth industrial revolution

The €19.9 billion ($22 billion) chemical and consumer goods company Henkel has been designated as an “Advanced Fourth Industrial Revolution Lighthouse” by the World Economic Forum for its state-of-the-art Laundry and Home Care factory in Germany.

Henkel, owned by 80 family members from three clans, became a member of the forum’s “Global Lighthouse Network” with other leaders of advanced manufactures.

The network aimed to develop and scale up innovations while creating opportunities for cross-company learning and collaboration in order to set new benchmarks for the global manufacturing community.

Henkel’s Laundry and Home Care business unit developed a cloud-based data platform, called Digital Backbone, that connected more than 30 production sites and 10 distribution centres around the world in real time. The platform helped enhance growing customer and consumer expectations on service and sustainability, while achieving double-digit cost and inventory reductions.

Founded in 1876, Henkel reported sales of €20 billion ($22 billion) and an adjusted operating profit of €3.5 billion ($3.9 billion) in 2018. Konstantin von Unger (pictured), a fifth-generation member of Henkel’s Shareholder Committee, accepted the Top Sustainable Family Business of the Year Award at the CampdenFB European Families in Business Awards in Milan in 2019.

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