News round-up: Low, Lauder, Yoo, Murdoch, Dolan

Lows donate to UN

Hong Kong’s Low family has donated $25m through its Jynwel Foundation to the United Nations in order to turn its news agency, Irin, into an independent NGO. Irin currently publishes in Arabic, French and English and will use the money to add Mandarin and Spanish language editions, to appeal to Chinese and Latin American readers. The founder of the third-generation Low dynasty made his money in the iron-ore and construction industries in Thailand.

Yoo family in safety criticism

The court cases following South Korea’s Sewol ferry disaster, in which 300 people died, has cast light on the dubious practices fostered by the country’s increasingly unpopular chaebol family-run conglomerates. It has emerged that the ferry operator owned by the Yoo family spent just £500 on safety training last year, and is accused of embezzling money for the family owners, whose head committed suicide over the affair. Critics say that the chaebols are too powerful, stifle competition, and encourage corruption.

Lauder's nightmare

Proof that leading the family business is not always a dream came from William Lauder, of the Estee Lauder cosmetics business, in an interview published this week. “To be CEO of a family-held company when your name is the same is a life sentence,” he said. “I felt there was a great need for change.” He moved from being CEO to executive chairman in 2009.

Lachlan takes the lead?

The succession saga at Rupert Murdoch’s media empire took yet another twist this week when the family head appeared to anoint his son Lachlan as his chosen successor. Lachlan left the business in 2005, before re-entering early this year. Another son, James, was once thought to be likely to take over, until a disastrously robotic performance when quizzed in the UK parliament about a phone-hacking scandal. But then again, others still tip Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth. Whoever Rupert favours, shareholders are sure to grumble about nepotism.

Dolan's union trouble
It’s often said that family businesses have good relations with their employees, but it’s not always the case. Workers at Cablevision, the US television network run by second-gen James Dolan, have accused him of telling them that pay-rises would be cancelled if they didn’t change union. Cablevision’s management says it is “outraged” by the accusations. Like Breaking Bad, a show made by another Dolan company, this one will run and run.