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FB Roundup: Hilton, Yanai and Porsche

Hotel magnate Barron Hilton dies age 91, Volkswagen chief executive faces criminal charges in Germany over ‘dieselgate’ and billionaire Uniqlo founder fears Brexit could turn UK into the ‘sick man of Europe’

Hotel magnate Barron Hilton dies age 91

Barron Hilton, the hotel magnate who expanded his father’s chain, has died age 91.

In a statement, the Hilton family said Hilton died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles on Thursday. He is survived by eight children, 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His wife, Marilyn Hawley Hilton, died in 2004.

“The Hilton family mourns the loss of a remarkable man,” Steven M Hilton, Hilton’s son and chairman of the family’s Conrad N Hilton Foundation, said.

“He lived a life of great adventure and exceptional accomplishment.”

Hilton took over Hilton Hotels Corporation as president and chief executive in 1966, succeeding his father, Conrad Hilton, who founded the hotel empire. He was instrumental in transforming Hilton hotels into the industry’s top brand during his 30 years as chief executive.

Hilton retired in 1996, but remained a chairman of the board for another decade until the company was acquired by the Blackstone Group for $26 billion.

In 2007 Hilton announced he would commit 97% of his wealth to philanthropic work through the Conrad N Hilton Foundation. The gift is expected to grow the foundation’s endowment from $2.9 billion to $6.3 billion.

The foundation, established in 1944, invests in seven areas—Catholic sisters, disaster relief and recovery, foster youth, homelessness, hospitality workforce development, safe water, and young children affected by HIV and AIDS.

The remaining 3% of Hilton’s estate will still leave millions for his surviving family members.

Volkswagen chief executive faces criminal charges in Germany over ‘dieselgate’

German prosecutors have charged Volkswagen chief executive Herbert Diess, chairman Hans Dieter Poetsh and former chief executive Martin Winterkorn with stock market manipulation after the diesel emissions scandal of 2015.

In September 2015, Volkswagen admitted to using illegal software in its diesel engines to cheat anti-pollution tests.

In a 636-page indictment, prosecutors in Branuschweig accused the trio of being aware of defeat devices being installed in VW vehicles well before the scandal broke out and not informing capital markets immediately.

It said the men knew the financial impact of the scandal on the company and sat on the information “thus unlawfully influencing the company’s share price”.

Shares fell by more than 40% in the aftermath of the scandal, wiping billions of dollars from its market value.

Responding to the indictment, Volkswagen rejected the charges and said it had “meticulously investigated” the matter over nearly four years.

“The result is clear: the allegations are groundless,” Hiltrund Dorothea Werner, the board member responsible for integrity and legal affairs, said.

She said that if the indictment went to trial the company would be “confident that the allegations will prove to be unfounded”.

Volkswagen is controlled by the holding company of Germany’s Porsche and Piech families, Porsche Automobil Holding. Fourth generation family members Josef Michael Ahorner, Stefan Piech and Peter Daniell Porsche sit on its supervisory board, led by chairman Wolfgang Porsche.

Billionaire Uniqlo founder fears Brexit could turn UK into the ‘sick man of Europe’

Japan’s richest man Tadashi Yanai has warned that Brexit could take the United Kingdom back to the economic stagnation of the 1970s when the country was described as the “sick man of Europe”.

In an interview with CNN, the founder and chief executive of the Fast Retailing empire, which includes Uniqlo, voiced concern over the UK’s divorce from the European Union.

“If Brexit does happen, the UK could revert back to the former situation before the Margaret Thatcher era,” Yanai said.

“The UK was referred to as the sick man of Europe. I’m afraid that could happen again.

“Brexit is practically impossible because the old borders will be shaky and the UK has a Northern Ireland issue and a Scotland issue … I think Brexit is difficult to realise even if the UK wants to do it.”

Fast Retailing’s flagship brand Uniqlo has struggled in the UK over the last few years. Expansion plans in the early 2000s reversed leading to the closure of 16 stores, with 13 remaining. However, Japan is still one of Britain’s biggest foreign investors, last year investing $37 billion, according to the government.

Yanai is the founder of Fast Retailing. He and his family own a 44% stake, putting their estimated net worth at more than $30 billion. Last year, he promoted his two sons to the board of Fast Retailing as company directors. Kazumi Yanai, 45, is global chairman of subsidiary Link Theory, while Koji Yanai, 42, oversees Uniqlo’s sales strategy.

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