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FB Roundup: John Elkann, Reinold Geiger, MacKenzie Scott

FB Roundup: John Elkann, Reinold Geiger, MacKenzie Scott
In this week’s FB Roundup, the billionaire Agnelli family takes a 15% stake in Philips; L’Occitane’s owner aims to take his company private; and MacKenzie Scott’s $250 million open call for non-profit donations receives 6,353 applications.
By Glen Ferris
John Elkann

Agnelli family takes a 15% stake in Philips
Italy’s billionaire Agnelli family has acquired a 15% stake in Dutch conglomerate Philips in a deal worth up to €2.6 billion. 

Exor, the Agnelli family’s investment firm, shepherded the agreement, further marking a turnaround in the healthcare and technology firm following a huge product recall in 2021, which resulted in reducing its share price by two thirds. After the deal was announced, Philips’ shares rose 5% to €19.42.

“Exor’s substantial investment underlines their confidence in Philips’ transformation into a healthcare technology company and its growth and value potential,” said Philips chairman Feike Sijbesma in a statement.

As part of the agreement, Exor - which could extend the share stake to 20% at a later date - will take a seat on the company’s supervisory board and is expected to play an active role in supporting Philips’ strategy, according to a source cited by The Financial Times. 

47-year-old John Elkann, a leading figure in the Agnelli family and Exor’s chief executive, has been exploring investment opportunities since the merger of his family’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles with Peugeot to create automotive supergroup Stellantis in 2021. Among previous investments are French healthcare group Institut Merieux, Italian hospital manager Lifenet and luxury footwear brand Christian Louboutin.

“Reflecting on 2022, I can confidently share with you that our work on healthcare has reinforced our view that there are real opportunities for us in this sector and our interest has only grown,” Elkann wrote in a letter to shareholders in April, as reported by The FT. 

“The path of change taken by Philips in recent years has created a company that combines two areas — healthcare and technology — to which we are committed,” said Elkann after the deal.

Reinold Geiger

L’Occitane’s owner aims to take the company private
Reinold Geiger, the Austrian billionaire and chairman / chief executive officer of French cosmetics retailer L’Occitane International is reportedly considering taking the popular skincare company private.

The controlling shareholder of the French luxury retailer of body, face, hair, fragrances, and home products is believed to be looking at the possibility of buying out minority shareholders and has been exploring various financing options for the potential deal, according to The National.

Geiger currently controls more than 70 per cent of the company, which is valued at $4.2 billion (according to filings), and has a portfolio of brands including L’Occitane en Provence, Melvita organic beauty products, Elemis collagen creams, the Grown Alchemist anti-ageing serums and Korean skincare brand Erborian.

L’Occitane, which is based in Luxembourg and Geneva and is listed in Hong Kong, and its backers raised $787 million in the company’s 2010 initial public offering, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

On the release of the news, shares in L’Occitane rose as much as 9.8 per cent, the biggest advance in a month, after stock had fallen 14 per cent over the past 12 months.

MacKenzie Scott

MacKenzie Scott’s $250 million open call for non-profit donations receives 6,353 applications
Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s ‘open call’ for community-focused non-profits to apply for funding through her organisation, Yield Giving, has received 6,353 applications - meaning candidates have a roughly 4% chance of being selected for a $1 million grant, according to The Associated Press.

Scott, who has a net worth of $34.6 billion (according to Bloomberg) owing to a 4% stake in Amazon which was founded by her ex-husband Jeff Bezos, plans to make unrestricted $1 million donations to 250 selected non-profits, which she calls a “New pathway to support organisations making positive change in their communities.”

“Teams on the front lines of challenges have insights no one else can offer,” said Scott of the process which has invited non-profits with annual operating budgets larger than $1 million but less than $5 million for at least two of the past five years. “So, there are three big headlines here in my heart: Community change-makers can nominate themselves. Community change-makers get feedback from their peers. Community change-makers have a powerful role in funding decisions.”

The ‘open call’ marks the first-time non-profits can apply to Scott for funding, with her team hitherto identifying and approaching organisations directly.

Having undertaken to give away most of her estimated personal wealth through the Giving Pledge, Scott has given more than $14 billion in unrestricted funds to 1,600 non-profit organisations (with many causes focusing on LGBTQ+ and racial equality, democracy, climate change and people affected by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic).

As reported by The Associated Press, “applicants themselves will help by reviewing other applications according to a set of criteria provided by [the MacArthur Foundation’s] Lever for Change. As many as 1,000 of the top applications will then be evaluated by a panel of reviewers. Scott and her team will then award grants to 250 organisations in the spring of 2024.”

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