News round-up: Wallenberg, Koch, Burkhard, Clark, Dejphon

Borje Ekholm, a Wallenberg stalwart, has got a new job. 

Borje Ekholm, a Wallenberg stalwart, has got a new job. 

Wallenbergs do the splits

Sweden’s legendary Wallenberg family have made changes to the leadership of their Investor holding company. Investor will be split in two groups, one consisting of the businesses it owns outright and another of the ones it holds stakes in, such as Saab and Electrolux. Current Investor CEO Börje Ekholm will head the first business, to be called Patricia Industries, and long-time Wallenberg consiglieri Johan Forsell the other.

Koch brothers dig deep

Some families like to keep a low profile. Not Charles G. and David H. Koch, the American billionaire heirs to an oil fortune. They say they and their supports will raise $889m to promote Republican causes in the 2016 elections. That is more than double what the Republican National Committee spent on the 2012 election, and around the amount both presidential candidates are expected to spend in total. What they want for their money is not immediately apparent. Or how they know it will be exactly $889m. 

Sika sale still stalled

The battle to stop the sale of Sika continues. In December the Burkhard family, which owns just 16% of equity but 52% of votes in the Swiss engineering firm decided to sell it to French rival Saint-Gobain. Now the board, which along with a group of small shareholders vehemently opposes the sale, argues that the Burkhards have broken the company’s rules and cannot sell. The moral of the story remains: family firms can be unpredictable.

Beware penpushers

The UK government has paid out £9m to the owners of a 125-year-old fifth-generation family business which collapsed after it wrongly announced that the firm had stopped trading. Cardiff-based engineering firm Taylor & Sons had contracts including a £400,000-a-month deal with Tata steel. However, another unrelated firm called Taylor & Son went out of business. A civil servant got the name wrong, and within a month all of the Welsh firm’s 3,000 customers had deserted it.

From fish to football

Dejphon Chansiri, whose family owns Thai Union Frozen Products, the world’s largest tinned tuna producer with revenues of $2bn a year and which owns the John West brand, has become the latest family business head to buy an English football team. Dejphon this week bought struggling Sheffield Wednesday for about £30m.