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FB Roundup: Julian Dunkerton, Wee Ee Cheong, Hirotake Yano

FB Roundup: Julian Dunkerton, Wee Ee Cheong, Hirotake Yano
In this week’s FB Roundup, Julian Dunkerton is in talks to take Superdry private; Wee Ee Cheong hopes to keep his father’s UOB stake in the family; and tributes are paid to Daiso founder Hirotake Yano.
By Glen Ferris
Julian Dunkerton
Julian Dunkerton

Julian Dunkerton in talks to take Superdry private 
British businessman and Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton is reportedly in talks with global institutional alternative investment management firm Davidson Kempner to take the fashion retailer private.

According to Sky News, “the talks are at a preliminary stage and there is no guarantee that Davidson Kempner will ultimately sign an agreement with Dunkerton.”

Davidson Kempner, which has more than $36 billion in assets under management and has backed such UK high street retail chains as Jojo Maman Bebe and Oak Furnitureland, are thought to be interested in a Superdry buy-in after it recently emerged that Dunkerton wanted to buy the majority stake in Superdry that he does not already own. Dunkerton owns just under 30% of Superdry’s shares after rejoining the company in 2019 following a reported ousting.

Following weak sales in 2023, the clothing company has taken on more than £100 million in borrowings, after securing funding from Bantry Bay Capital and Hilco, and has recently offloaded its brand in India and Asia-Pacific.

“The consumer retail market remains challenging and unpredictable, and sales performance has not been helped by the extreme weather events of the summer being followed by one of the warmest autumn seasons on record, which persisted through the peak Christmas trading period,” said Superdry in a statement at the end of 2023.

Wee Ee Cheong
Wee Ee Cheong

Wee Ee Cheong hopes to keep his father’s UOB stake in the family
Following the passing of billionaire Singaporean banker Wee Cho Yaw earlier this year, his son, Wee Ee Cheong, has expressed his hopes that the significant stake in United Overseas Bank (UOB) held by the late 95-year-old will be distributed among his descendants.

According to Bloomberg, Wee Cho Yaw “held about 18.5% through both direct holding and other investment vehicles. The Singapore-based bank has a market capitalisation of more than US$35 billion.”

“His personal stake ultimately I hope to distribute out to the children, the grandchildren,” said Wee Ee Cheong, who is also UOB’s chief executive officer. “So, hopefully, they can remember it’s a legacy asset given by the grandfather or great-grandfather.”

Wee Ee Cheong said that most of Wee Cho Yaw’s stake is already in the family companies, referring to holding companies for the family’s various business interests, which also span real estate and the maker of Tiger Balm.

Considered to be one of the last of Singapore’s 20th century banking giants, the chairman emeritus and honorary adviser of UOB and chairman of the UOL Group, was credited with helping to shape Singapore’s financial landscape by amalgamating several old family-controlled banks. He amassed a net worth of US$10.4 billion as of February 2024, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

“My father has left an indelible mark in Singapore and the region,” said Wee Ee Cheong at the time of his passing. “Whether it is through thinking for the long-term, the importance of deep relationships, doing the right thing or giving a helping hand to those in need, the influence of my father and his values will endure at UOB.”

Hirotake Yano
Hirotake Yano

Tributes paid to Daiso founder Hirotake Yano
Hirotake Yano, the billionaire founder of Japanese discount retailer Daiso, has died of heart failure at the age of 80.

“It’s with profound sadness that we announce the passing of founder and former president of Daiso Industries Company Limited, Mr Hirotake Yano,” Daiso said on its website following his death on February 12.

Hirotake Yano graduated from Tokyo's Chuo University in 1967 and went on to set up his first business in 1972 at the age of 29, a street vending shop called Yano Shoten, or ‘Yano Store’.

Five years later, he changed the name of the company to Daiso, which translates to “create something big” and the shop became famous for selling all of its items at 100 yen each.

By the end of 2023, Daiso had 4,360 stores in its home country and almost 1,000 shops around the world, with outlets across Asia, as well in North America and the Middle East. The company now calls itself “Japan's No.1 living ware supplier”.

Seen as a Japanese pioneer of the dollar shop business model, he is believed to have amassed a net worth of $1.9 billion at the time of his death, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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