News: Suntory takes it slow – plus Batista, Frere, Murdoch and Widjaja

Barrels being rolled at the Suntory distillery. 
Barrels being rolled at the Suntory distillery. 

In his first public announcements since becoming the first non-family CEO of Suntory, the Japanese drinks company that owns Jim Beam, Takeshi Niinami has said that the firm is not immediately planning any more big buys. The Saji family, whose third-generation head Nobutada wants to turn the company into a global one, paid $16bn for Beam. The focus for now, Niinami told the Financial Times, was to integrate the two companies. “Only then can we go to the next acquisition,” he said.

Eike Batista, once Brazil’s richest man, has had his assets frozen by a judge in his native country as part of an alleged insider dealing charge. Batista, the son of a businessman and minister whose own sons are called Thor and Olin after Norse gods, is alleged to have boosted the share price of his oil company OGX by tweeting about it while he was selling its shares. OGX later collapsed, wiping $30bn off the Brazilian stock market. Batista faces six years in jail if found guilty.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has sold almost all of his stake in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, something which might weaken the founder’s hold over his company, and his ability to install his sons as his successors. The Saudi has always supported Murdoch, until he abstained from a November vote to change the company’s structure. As we previously said here and here, most people underestimated Alwaleed’s role in the Murdoch succession saga.

The 89-year-old Albert Frere, Belgium’s richest man, has announced that he will retire as CEO of the family-controlled  conglomerate Groupe Bruxelles Lambert in April. Frere took over the family nail-making business at the age of 17 when his father died, and made his fortune in the Belgian steel industry. Through Pargesa, a holding company he co-owns with the Canadian Desmarais family, he owns stakes in firms such as steel-maker Lafarge and drinks company Pernod Ricard.

Indonesia’s Widjaja family have bought a 28% stake in Duta Anugerah Indah, which operates a television station in their home country, through their Golden Agri investment vehicle. Other Indonesian moguls including the Bakrie family, Hary Tanoesoedibjos and Chairul Tanjungs already own interests in the country’s fragmented television sector.