News round-up: Maran, Slim, Cho, Bombardier

A SpiceJet plane.

A SpiceJet plane.

Hot deal

Kalanithi Maran, founder of the family-controlled Sun Group, has sold his controlling stake in the iconic Indian budget airline SpiceJet to Ajay Singh, its founder and the man who runs the Argentum conglomerate. The carrier has been losing money for over a year and Maran is said to have been keen to offload the business before banks started demanding he pay its debts out of his personal wealth. Other shareholders in SpiceJet include a subsidiary of the Tata empire.

Slim chance

Mexican telecoms mogul Carlos Slim has doubled his stake in the New York Times newspaper to 17%, after he exercised warrants he received when he loaned the paper $250m in 2009. He is now the biggest owner of class A shares. However the Ochs-Salzberg family, who have controlled the NYT for over a century, are still in the driving seat, as they are able to appoint 70% of the board. Slim’s son said he had no intention of trying to take over the paper.

Hanjin debt worries

South Korea’s Hanjin conglomerate - the 10th-biggest chaebol, which is run by the Cho family - has been in the news recently following the nut-rage drama at its Korean Air subsidiary, but its problems could run deeper if figures from chaebul.com, a South Korean financial information provider, are correct. In December 2013 Hanjin’s debt-to-equity ratio was 452.4%, up from 248.3% in 2010. Korean Air’s stood at 837%, after it borrowed to buy new planes. The numbers are unlikely to have fallen in 2014. Critics say that Hanjin has been too fixated with arranging succession to the third generation of family membership to run its business properly.

Bombardier lay-offs

Bombardier, the Canadian maker of aeroplanes and trains that is 55% owned by the founding Bombardier family, is to lay off 1,000 employees and write down $1.4bn after it ran into problems in the development of its new Learjet, and also its CSeries airliner, which is meant to challenge Boeing and Airbus. It follows over 3,000 lay-offs last year. The company says that development is in a “pause”.