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FB Roundup: Lego, Dassault, Benetton Group

By Nicholas Moody

Lego repurchase of Legoland Parks continues trend of de-listing
Lego’s parent company has bought back the entertainments company it sold to Merlin Entertainment in 2005 for £4.8bn with a consortium of private equity and institutional investors.

Lego’s parent company, Kirkbi, which is controlled by the third-generation of the Kirk Kristiansen family, already owned a 30% stake in Legoland Parks after selling 70% of the business for about £250 million in July 2005 to repay mounting debts.

Merlin also owns attractions throughout the UK, Europe, and Australasia including London Eye, Alton Towers and Sealife Aquariums.

Ownership of the new business, will be split with Kirkbi and the Blackstone/CPPIB group each owning 50% upon completion.

It is expected Merlin’s shares will de-list from the London Stock Exchange upon completion of the transaction, adding Merlin to a growing list of family-controlled public companies that are being taken private.

For the full year ending December 2018, Lego’s global consumer sales grew 3%, while revenue for the full year grew 4% to DKK 36.4 billion ($5.5 billion), up from DKK 35 billion in 2017.

Dassault Aviation signs on to extend France’s AI industry
French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation is one of eight large French companies to sign a manifesto on artificial intelligence (AI) for industry.

All eight companies, which include Renault, EDF, and Air Liquide, depend on innovation to drive their growth and are engaged in a far-reaching digital transformation.

In a statement they said the companies will work together on issues related to the development of the AI technologies that meet the requirements of their industries.

It comes at a time when family businesses face balancing the competing forces of innovation and the social costs of a changing workforce.

The family-owned Dassault Group controls more than 10 different companies focused on aerospace and armaments, as well as French newspaper Le Figaro.

Dassault Group, which is 55% owned by the eponymous family and is in its third generation, has annual sales of more than €9 billion ($10.5 billion).

Remaining parts of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa demolished
Demolition teams have blown up the remaining parts of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy almost a year after the structure collapsed.

Heavy rain during a thunderstorm on 14 August 2018 caused a 200m section of the 50-year-old concrete arterial motorway bridge to fall 45m, killing 43 people, injuring more than a dozen and leaving 600 people below homeless.

Italy’s Benetton family came under attack from politicians and the public following the alleged involvement of one of their companies in the tragedy.

Edizione, a €12 billion ($14 billion) Benetton family holding company, has a 30.25% stake in Atlantia, the €6 billion ($7 billion) parent group of Autostrade, Italy’s largest private sector motorway operator, which was carrying out maintenance work on Morandi Bridge in Genoa.

At the time Edizione released a statement expressing deep sympathy to the families of the victims and its closeness to the injured and to all those involved in the tragic bridge collapse.

Well-known Italian architect Renzo Piano has created designs for a new bridge which is estimated to cost €200 million.

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