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FB Roundup: Swire Pacific, Point72, and Maersk

Swire Pacific brings in family member; Cohen’s Point72 accused of hostility to women; and Maersk positive despite "unusual" year.

Swire, Murugappa bring in family members

Swire Pacific has appointed its first family member chairman, a move which will see sixth-generation Merlin Swire, pictured, relocate to Hong Kong from the UK.

Swire, 45, replaces John Slosar as the head of the Hong Kong arm of John Swire & Sons (JS&S), though the latter stays on as chair of Cathay Pacific, to see the struggling airline through a transformation programme.

The Oxford graduate will relinquish his role as chief executive of JS&S and said the move back to Hong Kong “reflects how important [HK] is to the group's business".

The family-controlled group had turnover in excess of $26 billion in 2017 across its property, aviation, food and beverage, marine services, and industrial businesses.

Meanwhile in India, MM Murugappan has taken over as chair of his $4 billion family conglomerate Murugappa, succeeding Arunachalam Vellayan.

Since November 2009 Murugappan served as the group’s Vice-Chairman, spearheading technology, innovation and environment, health and safety initiatives. Murugappa’s interests span span fertilisers, sugar,cement, finance, real estate, engineering and insurance.

Cohen’s Point72 accused of hostility to women

The family office of billionaire investor Steve Cohen is the target of a lawsuit from an employee who claims it is a “boys’ club” in which women are paid less and disrespected.

US-based Point72 Asset Management has more than 1000 employees and looks after the Cohen family’s $11 billion fortune, though there are plans to relaunch it with external money also.

Cohen is not personally implicated in the lawsuit in which a female executive has claimed a “toxic” working environment in which men commented on women’s bodies, referred to them as “sweethearts”, and where senior women were excluded from meetings on the basis of gender, The New York Times reported.

Cohen has asked a judge if the claim can be settled via arbitration, as per a requirement in the plaintiff’s employment contract. She has until 28 February to respond.

Arbitration is a private process which can offer more procedural protection to the defendant.

Cohen made his fortune managing SAC Capital, one of the most successful hedge funds ever, which he was forced to shut down after pleading guilty to insider trading. As of January this year, he is legally allowed to manage non-family money again, thus the plans to expand his family office.

Maersk positive despite slowing trade

AP Moller-Maersk chief executive Soren Skou says he is positive about the future of shipping, despite his company missing its Q4 profit forecasts.

Maersk's fourth-quarter earnings were $837 million, lower than analysts had predicted. Revenue grew 13% in 2017 to $30.9 billion, but the company recorded a net loss of its continuing operations of $194 million, compared to the 2016’s $469 million loss.

Skou said the year was “unusual”, characterised by a cyber-attack which cost it $300 million in lost business, prompting it to explore a blockchain-based security solution with IBM. Maersk also sold oil and gas assets worth $7.45 billion in August.

He said while revenue, cash flow, and underlying profit improved, “significant improvement was still needed”. Skou was satisfied with the business’s overall strategy, and was optimistic that 2018 would see an uptick in global trade, benefitting Maersk.

Maersk is controlled by the eponymous family via AP Moller Holding A/S.

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