News round-up: Chiquita, Luxottica, Rothschild, Hyundai, Primark

Bananas deal up in the air

What will happen to Chiquita? On Friday the banana behemoth rejected the takeover offer from a pair of Brazilian billionaire families, the Cutrales and Safras, and it looked like the 144-year-old firm would merge with Fyffes, another fruit producer. But the share-price dropped on the news, leading the Chiquita management to re-engage with the Brazilians. Our bet? It’ll become a family-controlled firm by Christmas.

 

Luxottica changes again

It’s still musical chairs at Luxottica, the sunglasses firm which is going through changes at the top. Founder Leonardo del Vecchio re-took charge of the business two months ago, and two CEOs have stepped down in two months. The appointment of Adil Mehboob-Khan, a senior executive at Procter & Gamble, as co-CEO should reassure markets that the business still has quality management at the top, but the suspicion that 79-year-old del Vecchio wants to install his son Claudio in the top job sooner rather than later will probably cause uncertainty for the foreseeable future.

 

Nat goes it alone

The rehabilitation of Nat Rothschild continues. Soon the speed-bump that was the Bumi deal - a troubled business he ran with the Indonesian Bakrie family - will be forgotten, perhaps. Especially if his new Uber rival Maaxi, an app that helps you catch black cabs in London, is a success. But don’t expect him to enter into any joint ventures with his dad any time soon. In an interview with a British newspaper the younger Rothschild said he is “perfectly happy to admit” that he doesn’t get on with his father. “Essentially we’re in competition. Business is a big thing for him and for me,” he explained.

 

Hyundai pays for its hubris

Another week, another story about the chaebols. In this case, two. Family-controlled Hyundai outraged its shareholders recently when it blew $10bn on land in the glitzy gangnam area of Seoul so that it could build a snazzy new HQ. Employees went on strike. Shareholders revolted. Now the chastened firm is paying out a bigger-than-expected dividend to placate investors. But time might still be running out for the chaebols, the South Korean family-owned conglomerates. Government attempts to stimulate SMEs in the country appear to be bearing fruit, and the state has so far sunk $280m in 52 start-ups. The policy is specifically designed to reduce the chaebols' stranglehold on the economy, and it seems to be working. The fund still has 10 times that amount still to invest. If they don’t adapt, the giants will become dinosaurs.

 

Primark goes east

Watch out America, Primark is coming. The retailer, owned by the Weston family which also owns iconic London department store Selfridges and Associated British Foods, is to open its first store in the US in 2016 in the country’s biggest mall, The King of Prussia, outside Philadelphia. Another in New York will follow. The store is famous for its cheap clothes, which make it a favourite with teenagers.