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Family Business Roundup: Essar Oil, Merck, and Ikea

Billionaire Ruias brothers to sell stake in Essar Oil; Merck revenue and profit falls; and Ikea loses rights to name in Indonesia

Billionaire Ruias brothers to sell stake in Essar Oil

Essar Group, one of India's leading family-owned conglomerates, has held discussions with the national oil companies of Saudi Arabia and Iran about selling a stake in its refinery business, according to Bloomberg.

Mumbai-based Essar Group and Saudi Aramco reportedly started "exploratory talks" last month regarding a stake sale in the former's oil division Essar Oil, said sources familiar with the matter.

Essar Group is considering the sale after its assets were hit by a fall in commodity prices. Despite the global slowdown, Saudi Aramco has previously stated it will continue to invest in oil and gas. 

Essar Group was founded in 1969 by siblings Shashi and Ravi Ruia. The construction company has since diversified into manufacturing, services and retail. The second-generation business had revenues of $35 billion in 2015.

Merck revenue and profit falls

Shares at German pharmaceuticals company Merck, controlled by the eponymous family, have fallen by three percent after the firm announced disappointing fourth-quarter sales.

According to a press release, Merck said its fourth quarter sales fell 3% from the same quarter a year ago due to a 7% negative impact from foreign exchange. It also reported disappointing sales of its Januvia and Remicade drugs.

Merck added that the disappointing results were due in part to the timing of customer purchases in the third quarter and growing competition from other pharmaceutical companies.

The founding Merck family owns around 70% of the pharmaceuticals business through its holding company E Merck KG. The firm has roots dating back to 1668 and is the oldest chemical and pharmaceutical company in the world.

Merck expects 2016 revenues to increase to $40.2 billion from $38.7 billion.

Ikea loses rights to name in Indonesia

Swedish flat-pack furniture chain Ikea has lost the rights to its own name in Indonesia after the country’s highest court ruled that a local company owns the trademark.

According to court documents, the Swedish retailer registered the Ikea trademark in in Indonesia in 2010 but had not used its trademark in three consecutive years for commercial purposes.

The court ruled in favour of Indonesian company PT Ratania Khatulistiwa, which applied for the name in December 2013.

PT Ratania Khatulistiwa claims that Ikea stands for ‘Intan Khatulistiwa Esa Abadi’, in reference to the Indonesian palm Rattan used to make furniture.

For the Swedish firm, Ikea is formed from the initials of founding father Ingvar Kamprad and the first letters of the farm and the village where he grew up, Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd.

The 72-year-old company had sales of €32 billion ($35.6 billion) in the year to the end of August, another step towards its goal of hitting €50 billion by 2020.

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