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FB Roundup: Mohamed Al Fayed, Francois-Henri Pinault, Petr Kellner

FB Roundup: Mohamed Al Fayed, Francois-Henri Pinault, Petr KellnerFB Roundup: Mohamed Al Fayed, Francois-Henri Pinault, Petr Kellner
In this week’s FB Roundup, tributes are paid to former Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed; Francois-Henri Pinault is set to buy a $7 billion majority stake in talent agency CAA; and the Kellner family gains full ownership of investment firm PPF Group.
By Glen Ferris
Mohamed Al Fayed

Tributes paid to former Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed 
Mohamed Al Fayed, the Egyptian-born former owner of London’s Harrods department store, the Ritz Hotel in Paris and Fulham football club, has died at the age of 94.

“Mrs Mohamed Al Fayed, her children and grandchildren wish to confirm that her beloved husband, their father and their grandfather, Mohamed, has passed away peacefully of old age,” read a statement released by his family.

“He enjoyed a long and fulfilled retirement surrounded by his loved ones. The family have asked for their privacy to be respected at this time.”

The successful businessman – who is survived by his second wife, Finnish former model Heidi Wathen, and their four children, Jasmine, Karim, Camilla and Omar – was born in Alexandria in 1929 and began his career selling soft drinks and sewing machines.

His fortunes changed with investments in Middle East-based real estate, shipping and construction. He later moved his focus to Europe after buying the Ritz Hotel in Paris in 1979, Harrods in 1985 and Fulham FC in 1997.

“The story of Fulham cannot be told without a chapter on the positive impact of Al Fayed as chairman,” said US businessman Shahid Khan, who bought the club from Al Fayed in 2013. “His legacy will be remembered for our promotion to the Premier League, a Europa League Final, and moments of magic by players and teams alike.”

Al Fayed was well known for his showmanship and love of the limelight but would often court controversy with the British Press. Following the death of his son Dodi and Diana, Princess of Wales, in Paris in 1997, Al Fayed spent ten years trying to prove they were murdered, alleging their death had been set up by the British security services. His claims were later debunked by the courts.

Meanwhile, in 1994, he sparked a scandal after it was revealed that he paid politicians to ask questions on his behalf in parliament. He also later argued with the government over its refusal to grant him British citizenship. 

“He was an extraordinary tour de force of a man who never got over the death of his beloved son Dodi in the crash that also killed Diana,” said journalist and broadcaster Piers Morgan adding that he was a “flawed, complex character” but that he liked him.

“He was an extraordinary character,” said Michael Cole, former BBC Royal correspondent and director for public affairs at Harrods, in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “[Mr Al Fayed was] fascinating, larger than life and full of humanity.”

After selling Harrods to Qatar Holdings in May 2010 and Fulham FC three years later, Al Fayed mostly retired from the public eye. According to The Sunday Times Rich List 2021, he and his family had a net worth of £1.7 billion.

Francois-Henri Pinault

Francois-Henri Pinault to buy $7 billion majority stake in talent agency CAA
French luxury goods tycoon Francois-Henri Pinault is finalising a $7 billion deal to secure a majority stake in Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the US-based talent agency that represents A-list Hollywood stars and big-name musicians, including the likes of Ariana Grande, Tom Hanks, Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Jennifer Anniston, Charlize Theron and many more. 

The 61-year-old – who has a net worth of more than $40 billion mostly deriving from his family’s controlling stake in French-based multinational luxury group Kering – is, according to Bloomberg News, in talks to acquire a controlling interest in CAA from private equity firm TPG Inc.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based TPG acquired a 35% stake in CAA in 2010 and later increased that number to 54% in 2014, taking control of the business at a $1.1 billion valuation, according to Bloomberg.

The current $7 billion valuation has been signaled in part from CAA’s $750 million acquisition of rival ICM Partners in 2022, which at the time was the fourth largest talent agency in the US.

When the deal is completed, Pinault, who is married to actress and CAA client Salma Hayek, is thought to leverage his new roster of household names to highlight his family’s fashion and luxury brand portfolio, which includes the likes of Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and Pomellato.

CAA, which employs 2,000 people worldwide, was founded in 1975 by talent agents Michael Ovitz and Ronald Meyer, initially focusing on representing stars of film and television before later expanding into sports, theatre, corporate marketing and advertising.

Petr Kellner

Kellner family gains full ownership of investment firm PPF Group
The family of late Czech billionaire Petr Kellner have reportedly acquired full ownership of the richest family office in the European Union’s eastern wing after buying out two minority owners.

Kellner's widow, Renata Kellnerova, and her family previously owned 98.9 per cent of PPF with assets totaling more than €43.6 billion across financial services, telecoms, media, engineering, biotech and property. They are now outright owners after buying up the remaining shares from Ladislav Bartonicek and Jean-Pascal Duvieusart, who each held 0.535% stakes.

This deal follows the acquisition of shares previously held by Ladislav Bartonicek (0.535%) and Jean-Pascal Duvieusart (0.535%) by Kellnerova and her daughters and stepson Anna, Lara, Maria and Petr Kellner Jr.

“Our minority stakes had their logic in the structure of PPF Group as founded and managed by Petr Kellner,” said Bartonicek and Duvieusart in a joint statement. “Today, when the shareholding structure is divided among Petr’s heirs, the logic of PPF’s management also changed, which is why we both decided, in agreement with Renata Kellnerova, to sell our shares and simplify the shareholding structure.”

“On behalf of our entire family, I would like to thank Lada Bartonicek, who together with Petr was at the very beginning of PPF and played a key role in the successful transformation of [Czech Insurance Company] Ceska pojist’ovna,” said Renata Kellnerova. “It was undoubtedly one of the breakthrough transactions for PPF, which propelled it into the ranks of investment groups with a global footprint. My thanks also go to J-P Duvieusart, who brought global reach to PPF and was instrumental in its expansion into Asian markets. Both gentlemen have contributed significantly to the stability of PPF after my husband’s passing two years ago”.

Kellner died in an accident involving an Airbus AS350 B3 helicopter crash, which took place while the group were heliskiing in Alaska's backcountry near the Knik Glacier in 2021.

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