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FB Roundup: Mediterranean Shipping Company, EssilorLuxottica, Alberts Impact Capital

By James Beech

Aponte family expands its Mediterranean Shipping Company to rival Maersk

The Aponte family’s Mediterranean Shipping Company has re-energised its efforts to become the world’s largest container line by attempting to overtake rival family-controlled conglomerate AP Moller-Maersk.

MSC, founded and chaired by Captain Gianluigi Aponte (pictured left), 81, made waves when the family business poached long-time Maersk executive Soren Toft (pictured below right) in late 2020, suddenly and with immediate effect. Toft had served as Maersk’s chief operating officer since 2013 and later as a member of its executive board.

Toft was appointed chief executive at MSC, the first non-family individual in the position. He reports directly to Aponte, who assumed the newly created role of group executive chairman when his son and successor, Diego Aponte, was promoted to group president in 2014.

Diego Aponte said Toft’s 25 years of experience in leadership roles at Maersk and his understanding of the future of the container shipping supply chain made him “the ideal match to help lead MSC into the future at the helm of our family company, building on the strategy which has made MSC such a growing success these past five decades.”

The usually discreet $25 billion MSC has since been expanding its capabilities at a rate of knots. The Italian-Swiss company owns and charters 608 box ships capable of carrying 4,045,190 TEU of cargo compared to the Danish group’s 721 ships, carrying 4,182,800 TEU, according to maritime data hub Alphaliner. However, MSC has closed the gap in fleet numbers to only 81 vessels by ordering an additional 48 ships, amounting to an extra 875,676 TEU of cargo, compared to Maersk’s ordered 16 ships with an extra 48,406 capacity.

The octogenarian Aponte maintains his control over the global business he started in 1970 with one ship. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, MSC calls at 500 ports on 215 trade routes, carrying 21.5 million TEU a year, via a fleet equipped with green technologies.

Aponte and son work alongside his daughter Alexa Aponte-Vago, who is the group’s chief financial officer, and her husband Pierfrancesco Vago, the executive chairman of MSC Cruises.

EssilorLuxottica proceeds with $8.7 billion stake in GrandVision after tribunal

EssilorLuxottica, the family-controlled French-Italian eyewear and eyecare giant, has completed its $8.7 billion acquisition of Dutch eyewear retailer GrandVision after a two-year dispute.

EssilorLuxottica announced last week it had acquired a 76.72% ownership interest in GrandVision, the company that owns high street brand Vision Express, from HAL Optical Investments, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dutch investment firm HAL Holding.

The cash purchase price was equal to $33.71 per share, about the same as when the deal was first agreed in July 2019. Terms and conditions also remained the same. EssilorLuxottica said it will launch a mandatory public offer for all outstanding GrandVision shares.

Yet the $17 billion maker of Ray-Ban sunglasses said it was “reviewing its options” on the deal a week earlier. EssilorLuxottica said an arbitral tribunal had ruled GrandVision displayed “material breaches of its obligations to EssilorLuxottica” and EssilorLuxottica could change, or axe entirely, the transaction. GrandVision said it was “disappointed” by the tribunal’s decision.

Francesco Milleri (pictured right), 62, non-family chief executive of EssilorLuxottica, said the company decided to complete the integration without further delay as its “strategic rationale” remained unchanged.

“After two years of efforts and relentless work, we are now ready to turn a page and start a new chapter of EssilorLuxottica’s history, with GrandVision,” Milleri said.

“As the industry returns to growth following the pandemic, we believe this is the perfect time to expand our retail network, so that we can engage more effectively with consumers and thus raise the visibility and quality of the entire industry.”

Founder and father of six Leonardo Del Vecchio (pictured above left), 86, is the chairman of EssilorLuxottica. The Italian billionaire tycoon was its executive chairman when his Italian eyewear conglomerate Luxottica merged with the French optics manufacturer Essilor in 2018. Del Vecchio voluntarily stepped back from executive responsibilities in late 2020 to preserve the company’s “equal powers principle” among shareholders after a governance reshuffle.

Albert music publishing dynasty ventures into impact investing

The Albert family, the fifth-generation Australian clan that made its fortune in music publishing, has launched its first $12 million early-stage impact venture fund.

The family entertainment business Alberts is known for nurturing countless homegrown artists, including AC/DC, the Easybeats, John Paul Young and Baz Luhrmann. The family officially launched Alberts Impact Ventures in late June with the aim of closing 20 pre-seed, seed and Series A investments over the next three years.

The family fund intended to support the next generation of musicians, as well as address social issues, such as mental health and wellbeing, equality and environmental sustainability. Alberts has already invested in seven startups, including renewable energy retailer Amber Electric, online gig booking platform Muso and Sendle, Australia’s first 100% carbon neutral courier.

Alberts, based in Sydney, is led by David Albert (pictured above left), as chief executive, with siblings Ingrid, Emily and Kirsty Albert (pictured below right) as executive directors. David Albert joined the family business in 2004 after working in marketing roles for Coca-Cola, Eastman Kodak, Kellogg’s and Australian telecommunications companies Optus and Telstra.

The fifth-generation cohort in control are descended from Swiss immigrant watchmaker Jacques Albert, who opened his timepiece repair shop in Sydney’s Newtown in 1885. The founder catered for the public’s growing appetite for music as entertainment by opening Albert’s Music Stores in central Sydney, selling instruments and sheet music. Successive Albert generations helped shape Australian pop culture through their diversifications into music publishing, public and commercial broadcasting and film and television production.

However, David Albert was concerned by the disruption of digitalisation in the music industry by 2016. He supervised the sale of the family’s original 131-year-old music business, J Albert and Son, to the newly formed Australian arm of German media giant BMG. The family has retained its ownership of lucrative publishing rights of the seminal Australian rock bands AC/DC and the Easybeats, plus the Harry Vander, George Young and Stevie Wright catalogues.

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