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FB Roundup: Lego, Haidilao and Lupa Systems

Founder’s great-grandson takes chair as Lego builds in China, billionaire “hotpot queen” chooses Singapore for her new family office and next-gen James Murdoch joins the fight against fake news.

Founder’s great-grandson takes chair as Lego builds in China

Thomas Kirk Kristiansen (pictured), a fourth generation member of Lego’s founding family, has taken over the role of chairman as the Danish toy giant announces record sales.

A member of the board since 2007, he succeeded his father Kjeld as the company's deputy chairman in 2016. With a firm grip on the future of the almost $6 billion family enterprise, Thomas Kirk Kristiansen continues as a board member of the family’s holding company Kirkbi and three fully owned subsidiaries. This is in addition to serving as chairman of the family’s philanthropic Lego Foundation and as an executive manager of the Kirk & Kirk Holding company and management roles in four subsidiaries.

Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, his sisters and father have an evenly split ownership of a 75% stake in Lego Group. The group reported its revenue for the full year ending December 2019 grew 6% to DKK 38.5 billion ($5.73 billion) compared with 2018. Consumer sales grew 5.6% compared with 2018 and overall global market share increased. Operating profit was DKK 10.8 billion ($1.6 billion), an increase of 1% compared with 2018, while net profit grew 3% to DKK 8.3 billion ($1.2 billion).

China remains a strategic growth market for Lego, the group said. In 2019, it expanded its presence in tier three and four cities and now has 140 retail stores in 35 cities, including flagship stores in Beijing and Shanghai. During 2020, the group planned to open an extra 80 stores in 20 new cities.

Billionaire “hotpot queen” chooses Singapore for her new family office

The billionaire who founded the world’s largest chain of hotpot restaurants has chosen Singapore over rival ultra-wealth hub Hong Kong as the location for her new family office.

Shu Ping is the director, strategic mastermind and co-founder of Haidilao with husband and chairman Zhang Yong, plus two associates. From its launch as a family business in 1994 to 2018, Haidilao opened 466 chain restaurants in more than 100 cities in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, plus Singapore, South Korea, Japan, the United States, Canada and Australia. It counts 36 million members and 69,900 employees. In 2019, Haidilao expanded into Malaysia, Vietnam and the UK.

Shu was appointed the sole shareholder and director of Sunrise Capital Management Ltd, according to filings lodged with Singapore’s national regulator of business entities, Bloomberg reported. Shu was one of Singapore’s wealthiest people with a net worth of $7.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Her husband was also worth $7.7 billion.

Many families in Hong Kong were considering their futures in Hong Kong after months of civil unrest in 2019. The spread of the coronavirus outbreak may prompt families to flee the island as its authorities close schools and encourage working from home.

Next-gen James Murdoch joins the fight against fake news

James Murdoch (pictured) has reportedly invested a seven-figure sum in a startup which aims to tackle digital disinformation only weeks after criticising his father Rupert’s media empire for its scepticism over climate change.

Lupa Systems is the New York-Mumbai private investment company set up by James Murdoch after he departed with his $2 billion share of the proceeds from Rupert’s $71 billion sale of the family-controlled 21st Century Fox to Disney in 2019. Lupa has partnered with US seed-stage venture capital firm Betaworks to launch Betalab to fund early stage startups that aim to “fix the internet,” John Borthwick, Betaworks chief executive and co-founder, said.

“With Betalab we want to crank up the speed of innovation around this broad area of humane tech and specifically around nefarious uses of synthetic media, AI and computer vision. It’s time to get real about reality and fix things.”

Lupa and Betaworks plan to invest $100,000 into each early-stage start-up, with the goal of finding 10 to 20 companies to fund in the next year, the Financial Times reported.

In January, James Murdoch, 47, described his “frustration” with some of the coverage of the Australian bushfires by his father’s News Corp and Fox media outlets.

Murdoch and his wife Kathryn “are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary,” they said in a statement to The Daily Beast.

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