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FB Roundup: Albert Frère, Takeda, and Maersk

Belgian corporate titan Albert Frère dies, Takeda shareholders approve contentious Shire purchase, and Maersk aims for carbon neutrality by 2050
Albert Frere, former CEO of Groupe Bruxelles Lambert

Belgian corporate titan Albert Frère dies

European family business icon Albert Frère, who built his father’s construction supplies business into a global investment conglomerate, died on 3 December aged 92.

The Belgian billionaire founded investment holding company Compagnie Nationale a Portefeuille (CNP) and jointly controlled Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL) via his family holding company Groupe Frère-Bourgeois (GFB).

Together with Canada’s Desmarais family, Frère held stakes in Adidas (7.5%), Pernod Ricard (7.5%), and was the only outside investor in German family media company Bertelsmann up until 2006 thanks to his 50% ownership of GBL.

Frère grew his father's scrap-metal business into a global investment conglomerate covering many industries including media, utilities, and energy. GFB and GBL had net assets of more than €24 billion ($29 billion) at 31 December 2017.

“Recognised for his vision, his leadership and his deep commitment to his country and region, Baron Frère has built in the last decades a diverse group present internationally in many parts of the economy,” CNP said on its website.

His son Gerald has been GBL chairman since 2012 and his daughter Ségolène Gallienne is a director of CNP and GFB.

Takeda shareholders approve Shire purchase despite earlier family opposition

Shareholders at Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda have approved the contentious $59 billion acquisition of London-listed Shire despite earlier opposition to the deal by some members of the Takeda family.

The 237-year-old Japanese firm has agreed to buy the Irish specialty biopharmaceutical company making it one of the world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies.

It came following months of opposition by some members of the founding Takeda family who objected to the debt levels Takeda would incur from the deal.

Kazuhisa Takeda, a member of the firm's founding family, spoke out against the deal over concerns with the level of debt it would add to Takeda earlier this week.

The family is understood to own about 10% of Takeda shares.

Founded in 1781, Takeda currently has about 27,230 employees that will double to more than 50,000 after the merger is complete. It posted revenues of JPY1.7 trillion ($15.6 billion) in 2017.

Maersk sets target to have net zero CO2 emissions by 2050

The world’s largest container shipping company has set a target to have a carbon neutral fleet by 2050.

The Danish family business moves an estimated 12 million containers a year around the globe and says in order for it to reach its 2050 target carbon neutral vessels must be commercially viable by 2030.

It is calling for an acceleration in new innovations and adaption of new technology, even as it acknowledges its carbon emissions are still 9% above the industry average.

“Over the last four years, we have invested around $1 billion and engaged 50+ engineers each year in developing and deploying energy efficient solutions. Going forward we cannot do this alone,” said Søren Toft, chief operating officer at A.P. Moller – Maersk.

Maersk is chaired by matriarch Ane Maersk Mc-Kinney Uggla. Maersk’s 2017 revenue was just under $31 billion.

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