Notable & Quotable: Family offices & unicorns, government aid for family business…


Hot unicorns…

Family offices beware – unicorns want your money. Yes, those tech companies referred to as unicorns with $1 billion-plus valuations, but no profits, are looking to tap the money of family offices. That’s according to an American venture capitalists called Bill Gurley, who writes a blog about money and tech start ups. Gurley said this in a recent post: “If you ask any large family office, they will tell you they are being bombarded with calls and emails offering secondary positions in Unicorn companies. Often with teasers such as ‘20-40% discount to last round price’.”

Family Capital recently said fintech unicorns might be one of five interesting investment themes for family offices. But, if Gurley is right, it seems like they’ve already been oversold to family offices for some time.


…cold hedge funds

Hedge funds are becoming less popular by the day, so it would seem. Last week, Warren Buffett tore into the investment class and their fees at the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting, saying they were a “huge minus” for anyone who follows their advice.

Billionaire Steve Cohen, who converted his hedge fund into a family office a few years back, also came down heavy on the asset class, saying at a conference in the US, that he was “blown away with the lack of talent” in the hedge fund sector. Chris Ailman, who runs investments at California State Teachers’ Retirement System, and Jagdeep Singh Bachher, chief investment officer of the University of California’s endowment, have added their names to the growing list of hedge fund sceptics, or at least to their fee structures.


Canadian family dynasty want government aid…and to stay in control

The Beaudoin-Bombardier family that controls one of Canada’s highest profile companies, Bombardier, is seeking US$1 billion in federal aid to back its recovery efforts, according to Canadian media reports. The catch, the family, aren’t willing to give up any of their control, which is exercised through 53% of the voting rights in the Montreal-based aerospace and transport group. The government has yet to make a decision on the call for aid.


New president of family business group in Spain

The Instituto de la Empresa Familiar in Spain has appointed Ignacio Osborne as its new president. Ignacio is CEO of one of the oldest family businesses in the world, the wine and ham company, Osborne Group, which was founded 1772. In his first speech as president of the IEF, Ignacio said politicians need to act responsibly and have a long-term vision. Ignacio has a point – Spain’s political parties have been unable to form a government since the election last December…and seem no closer to doing so.