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FB Roundup: Bestseller, Bertelsmann, Bayshore Global Management

Danish Povlsen family’s Bestseller in UK Asos Top Shop deal, German family-controlled Bertelsmann mulls sale of French media group M6, Google co-founder Sergey Brin joins billionaire rush for Singapore family offices.

Danish Povlsen family Bestseller in UK Asos Top Shop deal

Anders Holch Povlsen, the second-generation Danish online retail billionaire, is behind the £295 million ($403 million) acquisition for UK high street names Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge.

Povlsen (pictured), 48, is the chief executive of Bestseller, the $3.8 billion family-owned fashion company of more than 20 brands including Jack & Jones, Only & Sons and Vera Moda. Bestseller is also the majority shareholder at 26% of Asos, the UK’s largest $1.3 billion online retailer, for “fashion-loving 20-somethings around the world.”

Asos completed this week its buy-out of the three UK brands and activewear collection HIIT, plus £30 million ($41 million) worth of stock, from Sir Philip Green’s collapsed Arcadia group. The e-tailer pledged to develop its new additions using its design, marketing, technology and logistics expertise. However, Asos was investing in clicks, not bricks. The flagship Top Shop store on London’s Oxford Street (pictured) is among 70 stores set to close with only 300 out of 13,000 Arcadia employees moving to Asos. The closures were another blow to the high street retail sector which has suffered major losses in sales under temporary government coronavirus restrictions while e-commerce has soared.

“The importance of digitalisation and sustainability are becoming increasingly clear in all parts of society,” Povlsen said in Bestseller’s annual report.

“Now, more than ever, we need to accelerate our journey towards a sustainable reality and a truly digital future. This is key to the continued development of our company.”

Bestseller was founded by Troels Holch Povlsen and Merete Bech Povlsen, in Brande in 1975. The couple, who have four children including Anders, started by selling women's fashion then expanded into children's clothing in 1986 and menswear in 1988.

The family business markets globally via e-commerce. It also employs 17,000 staff in 2,750 branded chain stores in 38 markets worldwide. Its products are sold in 20,000 multi-brand and department stores.

Bestseller Fashion Group China is an independent company partly owned by the Holch Povlsen family. Launched in 1996, the group operates in more than 7,000 stores in 500 cities throughout China.

Worth $11.9 billion, according to Forbes, Povlsen succeeded his father as the principal of Bestseller at the age of 28. The avid rewilding conservationist lives in Scotland and owns 93,000ha of land across 13 estates, more than the Queen and the Church of Scotland combined.

The private family business owner was injured and lost three children in a terror attack in Sri Lanka in 2019.

German family-controlled Bertelsmann mulls sale of French media group M6

German media family business Bertelsmann continues its hot deal-making streak by touting the sale of its French broadcast subsidiary M6 for about €3 billion ($3.6 billion).

French media giants Vivendi and Altice Europe were among the potential bidders scouted for interest in buying the controlling stake for Metropole Television SA, known as M6 Group and home to France’s biggest private radio station, RTL Group, Reuters reported.

As shares in M6 jumped 9% and speculation rose, RTL issued a statement on 29 January that did not rule out the transaction.

“RTL Group would like to state that it has repeatedly said that there is a strong case for consolidation in the European broadcasting sector. RTL Group reviews such options on an ongoing basis with a view to creating value for its shareholders.”

RTL was in good financial health, according to its 2020 financial report released in January. The group made a profit of €850 million ($1 billion) above the previous guidance of €720 million ($865 million), buoyed by an unexpected increase in television advertising in the fourth quarter. Revenue for the full year was €6 billion ($7.2 billion).

Bertelsmann’s potential retreat or exit from its last French media outpost would follow its pivot to the US. The Bertelsmann-Mohn family-controlled conglomerate acquired the US publishing house Simon & Schuster for $2.175 billion from the Redstone-family-owned media company ViacomCBS in late 2020.

Sixth-generation Christoph Mohn (pictured), 55, is the eldest son and middle child of Reinhard and Liz Mohn and chairman of the Bertelsmann supervisory board. Founder Carl Bertelsmann opened his publishing house and print shop in 1835 in Gutersloh, where the company headquarters remain. His descendants own 19.1% of the capital shares in Bertelsmann SE & Co KGaA and the remaining shares are held indirectly by three family foundations, Bertelsmann Stiftung, Reinhard Mohn Stiftung and BVG-Stiftung.

Last month, Christoph Mohn wished Thomas Rabe continued success as the non-family chairman and chief executive of the company renewed his contract for a third term of five years. Mohn noted the virtues of continuity in a time of increasingly rapid change and praised Rabe as a strategist with outstanding analytical and managerial skills.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin joins billionaire rush for Singapore family offices

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, is the latest billionaire to open a family office in Singapore.

The US internet entrepreneur, worth $86.5 billion, operates his family office, Bayshore Global Management, with interests in real estate, in Palo Alto, California. Bayshore set-up a branch in the Asian financial hub in late 2020, documents lodged with regulators revealed. The new branch, North Bayshore, was named after the Californian location of Google’s headquarters and is held under holdings company Parachute Capital.

Brin (pictured), 47, the ninth richest person in the world, co-founded Google with fellow Stanford University computer science student Larry Page in 1998. Brin stepped away from Alphabet, the parent company of Google, to become a venture capital investor, backing the likes of Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors. Brin set up the grant-giving Brin Wojcicki Foundation in 2004 with his former wife, Anne Wojcicki.

With its tax and regulatory advantages and political and economic stability, Singapore is the strategic gateway to investment opportunities in the fast-growing economies of Asia. The island city-state has weathered the Covid-19 storm better than most with 60,000 cases and 29 deaths. Its stock has soared among wealth-holders while rival hub Hong Kong was beset by civil unrest in 2019 and is under mounting pressure from Chinese authoritarianism.

Ray Dalio, 71, the US investor worth $16.9 billion who founded Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, opened a family office in Singapore in late 2020 to manage his investment and philanthropy interests in the region.

Sir James Dyson, 73, the UK industrialist and entrepreneur who made his family fortune from vacuum cleaning inventions, moved his family office, Weybourne Group, and the Dyson company headquarters to Singapore in 2019. Sir James topped The Sunday Times Rich List for the first time in 2020 as his wealth jumped to £16.2 billion ($22.2 billion).

Shu Ping, who co-founded the $1.8 billion Chinese hotpot giant Haidilao with husband Zhang Yong, also chose Singapore to establish their family office, Sunrise Capital Management, in 2019. Her fortune amounts to $18.3 billion.

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