News: Comcast, Samsung, de Agostini, Illy, Walmart

Image: Illy

Image: Illy

Comcast man dies

Ralph Roberts, the man who founded cable television giant Comcast, has died aged 95. Comcast was founded in 1963 when Roberts bought a cable company with just 1,200 subscribers, and grew to have revenues of $69 billion in 2014. The currently CEO is Ralph’s son Brian who has a third of voting rights, meaning he effectively controls the business.

Samsung under attack

Samsung, the South Korean conglomerate which is currently transitioning to the third generation of control by the Lee family, has come under attack from Elliott Associates. The American hedge fund, which is well known for its aggressive approach, has taken a 7.1% stake in a Samsung business that is in the process of being taken over by another Samsung company. Elliott claim that the deal favours the Lees at the expense of other shareholders, to the tune of Won7.8tn (£4.47bn).

De Agostini presses for share law

The head of the Italian family-controlled de Agostini conglomerate has said that his country should follow the example of France, and introduce a law that automatically gives long-term shareholders more voting power. As we have written before (here and here) France recently created the so-called Loi Florange which does this. Italy has passed a law that allows shareholders to opt-in to such a scheme. De Agostini argue that it should be the default, and firms should have to opt out.

Illy to float?

Italian coffee group Illy, which is owned by the Trieste-based Illy family, is looking at the possibility of an IPO. It follows the decision of another Italian coffee dynasty, Segafredo, to list a third of its shares. The coffee industry is going through a period of consolidation, and smaller family-owned players are looking to raise money to stay competitive. 

Walmart bans Confederate flag

Walmart, the American retailer owned by the Walton family, has said that it will no longer stock Confederate flag merchandise. The flag, which is seen by many as a symbol of the slave-owning American south, has long been controversial but appears to have become toxic following the racist shooting in a church in Charleston last week.