Notable & Quotable: Porsche-Piech families get dividend; a family office becomes a hedge fund…


The head of one Spain’s biggest family businesses steps down

Juan Miguel Villar Mir, one of Spain’s most successful entrepreneurs, is stepping down from the business empire he built, which includes the huge construction group Obrascon Huarte Lain. His son Juan Villar Mir de Fuentes will take over as the president of OHL. Juan Miguel was known for his workaholic tendencies and once said: “I don’t know anyone who works as hard as me.” Clearly, those efforts have paid off – he and his family are worth more than $3 billion, according to Forbes.


Phew, the Porsche-Piech families will still get their dividend

Despite the fallout from the emissions scandal at Volkswagen, shareholders of the huge carmaker will receive a dividend, albeit a much smaller one than in previous years.

Europe’s largest automaker recently held its first annual shareholder meeting since admitting in September that it rigged US diesel emissions tests. Shareholders ratified a proposal by VW’s two boards to pay a dividend for 2015 of 0.11 euro per ordinary share and 0.17 euro per preferred share. But that’s massively down from the 4.80 euros and 4.86 euros, respectively, for 2014.

That will affect the income of the members of the Porsche-Piech clan that own shares in the carmaker, which includes 34 members of the fourth generation. But at least they will be getting something – previously there was a move to cut the dividend completely for 2015.

Shareholders also managed to block a move to replace Hans Dieter Poetsch – Volkswagen’s chairman and also head of the Porsche-Piech families holding company – as chair of the meeting.

The Porsche-Piech families own 52% of VW through holding company Porsche SE. Other big shareholders include the German region of Lower Saxony and the Gulf state of Qatar. Many smaller investors in VW have been calling for a change in the corporate governance at the carmaker. So far, their demands have come to nothing.


Hedge funds have become family offices, but now one’s become a hedge fund

Michael Milken, the legendary junk bond king, is apparently turning his family office into a hedge fund and seeking outside money.

A report in the Wall Street Journal, which cited regulatory filings and people familiar with the matter, said Milken’s family office Silver Rock Financial has been transformed into a hedge fund and will be run by the family office’s chief investment officer Carl Meyer. The Journal report added that Silver Rock had apparently run into trouble recently, although whether that was a factor contributing to the decision wasn’t said.

The move runs contrary to what is happening elsewhere in the hedge fund sector, where many of them in recent years have turned themselves into family offices to escape regulatory pressures.

Back in the late 1980s, Milken became the highest paid financier on Wall Street, apparently earning more than $1 billion in a four year period when he worked for the high-yield bond department at Drexel Burnham Lambert. But he was later involved in an insider-trading scandal that led him spending two years in jail. After his release he became one of America’s biggest philanthropists through the Milken Family Foundation.

The art of family businesses

The New York Times ran a piece about the trend for successful gallery owners around the world to bring the next generation into the business. There’s some good quotes in the piece from next generation family members, including this one from Marc Glimcher, who now runs the gallery his father started. “ You have to come to peace with the idea that you’re going to do the same thing that your father did, and your father was pretty great at it…You also have to come to grips with the fact that he started it from scratch and you are never going to do that. It’s an internal struggle that took me 20 years to untangle.” No difference there from any other next gener coming to the family business then…