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FB Roundup: Mars, LVMH, and Toyota

Mars buys out Buffett to take 100% control of Wrigley; LVMH next-gen Alexandre Arnault helps steer RIMOWA acquisition; and Toyota’s personal robot 'Kirobo Mini' signals AI push

Mars buys out Buffett to take 100% control of Wrigley

Mars is to take full control of its Wrigley chewing gum business after Berkshire Hathaway sold its minority stake back to the world’s largest confectionary maker.

According to Reuters, Berkshire invested in Wrigley in 2008 when it acquired $2.1 billion of preferred stock and $4.4 billion of bonds in connection with privately held Mars' $23 billion purchase of the chewing gum maker. 

Mars bought back the bonds in 2013, and has elected to buy back all the remaining stock.

The buyback is in keeping with the Mars family’s ownership approach. 

The US company is the world’s four largest Titan – the name given to wholly-owned family businesses – with 2015 revenues of $33 billion. 

Mars is governed by a board of directors who are members of the Mars family, and who receive independent advice from four external board advisers.

LVMH next-gen Alexandre Arnault helps steer RIMOWA acquisition

Alexandre Arnault, son of LVMH founder, Bernard Arnault is to be the joint chief executive of luxury German luggage maker RIMOWA.

 The 24-year-old has been promoted to the position after helping the world’s largest luxury group by sales acquire the third-generation family business – the first German ‘maison’ to be added to the French group.

LVMH Group agreed to pay €640 million ($713 million) for 80% of RIMOWA’s shares, subject to the approval of the competition authorities, with the Morszeck family retaining the remaining equity. The transaction is due to complete in January 2017.

Alexandre Arnault will act as chief executive alongside Dieter Morszeck, the founder’s grandson.

Bernard Arnault said: “Germany is recognised all over the world for the vitality of its family businesses and for the quality of their products. I am glad that LVMH will now have an opportunity to be part of this thanks to RIMOWA.”

RIMOWA revenue is expected to exceed €400 million in 2016, LVMH reported revenue of €17.2 billion in the first half of 2016, an increase of 3%. 

Toyota’s personal robot 'Kirobo Mini' signals AI push

Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp, owned by the Toyoda family, has entered into the personal robotics market with a 10cm high ‘communication partner’ - 'Kirobo Mini'.

The child-like device which is to cost 39,800 yen ($392) has been developed in a country where falling birth rates and an aging population mean companionship is increasingly desired.

The personalised robot underlines how the third-generation family business is investing heavily in developing artificial intelligence - initially for self-driving cars. 

The 79-year-old company is understood to see Kirobo Mini as a step towards more advanced robots that will be able to recognise and react to human emotions – part of a push to invest in non-automotive sectors.

It announced in September it had developed a new DNA analysis system that can be used to better identifying and select useful genetic information for agricultural plant improvement.

Toyota reported revenues of 28.4 trillion yen ($274 billion) in 2016.

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