October 22, 2018

Media Decoder Blog: Hulu Names an Acting Chief Executive

The online video Web site Hulu, in a state of flux as its owners decide what to do with it, said Thursday that the person in charge of content for the site, Andy Forssell, would become its acting chief executive.

Mr. Forssell will succeed Jason Kilar, at least temporarily. Mr. Kilar, the founding chief executive of Hulu, said in January that he would step down by the end of March. He reaffirmed that plan in a message to Hulu employees on Thursday. Mr. Kilar hasn’t said whether he is taking a new job elsewhere.

The message to employees, subsequently published on the Hulu Web site, tacitly confirmed that the active owners of Hulu, the Walt Disney Company and News Corporation, are contemplating a change to the ownership structure of the company.

“Disney and News Corporation are currently finalizing their forward-looking plans with Hulu, and the senior team has been working closely with them in that process,” Mr. Kilar wrote. “Once the plans are finalized, a permanent decision will be made regarding the C.E.O. position.”

Comcast also owns part of Hulu, through its 2011 acquisition of NBC, but it gave up NBC’s management role of the site at that time. So it’s up to Disney and News Corporation to decide what to do. One of the companies may opt to buy out the other owners’ shares. Or Disney and News Corporation may choose to sell Hulu to a different company. Mr. Kilar did not indicate when a change could take place.

But until it does, Mr. Forssell will be in charge. He has been at Hulu since the beginning, and he is currently the senior vice president of content, meaning that he oversees relationships with networks like ABC and Fox and manages the acquisition of original video for the site.

Mr. Kilar said in his message that Hulu’s focus “remains on delivering a fantastic 2013 for customers and shareholders” and indicated that records for revenue and subscriber additions would be set in the first quarter of the year, despite the owner uncertainty.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/15/hulu-names-an-acting-chief-executive/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Belgium Investigates LVMH

PARIS — Federal prosecutors in Brussels have opened an investigation into the Belgian financial activities of LVMH, the luxury giant controlled by the French mogul Bernard Arnault, who is seeking citizenship in that country.

The investigation, confirmed Friday by a spokeswoman for the Belgian Federal Justice Ministry, could provide a rare look into the affairs of Mr. Arnault, one the world’s wealthiest individuals. Mr. Arnault controls LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and its portfolio of luxury brands, including Dior, through a complicated network of companies that makes it difficult to ascertain the actual ownership structure.

The investigation was first reported Friday by De Morgen, a Flemish newspaper.

Because Mr. Arnault is seeking Belgian citizenship, the justice authorities had been asked to weigh in with an opinion on his fitness. According to De Morgen, the investigation followed from that review, with officials looking into suggestions that LVMH might have used a network of Belgian subsidiaries to avoid taxes.

Geneviève Seressia, the Justice Ministry spokeswoman, said ministry officials had recommended against Mr. Arnault’s application because he had been unable to prove that his principal residence for the past three years had been in Belgium. She declined to comment further on the case.

Mr. Arnault is not the only well-known Frenchman to seek foreign citizenship lately. Last week Gérard Depardieu, the actor and businessman, received a Russian passport from Vladimir V. Putin. Mr. Depardieu has complained that his tax burden in France grew too large under the government of François Hollande, which hopes to set the top marginal income tax rate at 75 percent.

The country’s Immigration Service had already returned a negative reply on Mr. Arnault’s application. The Belgian State Security Service is also expected to render an opinion. But the final decision will be in the hands of a parliamentary naturalization commission, which is not required to abide by the recommendations.

“This is just a step in the procedure that doesn’t at all prejudge the final decision of the Belgian naturalization commission,” Olivier Labesse, a spokesman for Mr. Arnault said, adding that the decision was expected this spring. “Bernard Arnault remains a French citizen,” he said, “and he pays his taxes in France.”

Mr. Arnault, 63, has never explained exactly why he is seeking Belgian citizenship. But having a Belgian passport might allow his heirs to keep LVMH intact on his death, rather than, as might be the case in France, having to break the company up to pay inheritance taxes.

Last year, Mr. Arnault was ranked by Forbes magazine as the world’s fourth-wealthiest person with a fortune estimated at $41 billion, behind Carlos Slim Helú, Bill Gates and Warren E. Buffett.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/12/business/global/belgium-investigates-lvmh.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

France and Germany Lose Vetoes Over Airbus Parent

PARIS — European Aeronautic Defense and Space, the parent company of Airbus, confirmed late Wednesday an overhaul of its ownership structure that will dissolve a decade-old arrangement that gave the governments of France and Germany an effective veto over strategic management decisions.

The balancing of national interests in EADS was enshrined in a shareholder pact that dates to the company’s creation in 2000. That agreement stipulated that the French and German stakes in EADS must be equal. Until now, the two countries have each controlled 22.5 percent of the company through a mix of state holding companies and private-sector owners that have acted as proxies for Paris and Berlin.

Under the terms of the new agreement, KfW, a German state-owned bank, will acquire a 12 percent stake in EADS — giving Berlin its first direct stake — while France will reduce its voting rights to 12 percent from 15 percent. A Spanish government holding company’s stake will shrink to 4 percent from about 5.5 percent.

The two large private-sector shareholders that have served as proxies for Berlin and Paris are expected to substantially reduce their stakes “either immediately or in the near future,” EADS said, in part through a general buyback of up to 15 percent of the company’s shares that is planned for the first quarter of next year.

The German carmaker Daimler, which holds 15 percent of EADS shares and 22.5 percent of its voting rights, said in a separate statement that it planned to reduce its holdings this year. Daimler did not say how much of a stake it would sell, but EADS said the initial disposal would amount to a 7.44 percent stake, including a 2.76 percent stake to be sold to KfW.

Lagardère, a French conglomerate that owns 7.5 percent of EADS, said it would sell a 5.5 percent stake to EADS under the buyback program.

Under the new structure, France, Germany, Daimler and Lagardère have agreed to give up the rights they held under the previous accord to a veto over certain management decisions, including big acquisitions.

“The agreement aims at normalizing and simplifying the governance of EADS while securing a shareholding structure that allows France, Germany and Spain to protect their legitimate strategic interests,” EADS said.

The changes will eventually increase the “free float” of publicly traded EADS shares to more than 70 percent from 49 percent now, EADS said.

It said it would convene a shareholder meeting in the first half of 2013 to approve the changes and to elect a new board.

EADS proposed that the new board have 12 members, rather than the current 11, and include at least eight independent members. The majority of directors, as well as two-thirds of the members of the group’s executive committee, would be European Union nationals, EADS added.

EADS has long sought a new shareholder arrangement that would preserve the politically delicate balance of influence between France and Germany without subjecting crucial management decisions to the approval of politicians in Paris and Berlin.

Such political involvement was evident in October, when the German government did not give its blessing to the merger of EADS with BAE Systems of Britain.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/06/business/global/eads-confirms-change-in-ownership-structure.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Hermès Is Selling Its Stake in Gaultier’s Fashion House

Hermès said it had agreed to sell its 45 percent stake in Gaultier to Puig for 16 million euros, or about $24 million, and the Spanish company will also assume 14 million euros in debt. Hermès said last month that it was in talks with several potential buyers for Gaultier.

“I am delighted with this move for a house that is dear to our heart,” Patrick Thomas, the Hermès chief executive, said in a statement. “I am convinced that the alliance between Jean Paul Gaultier and the Puig family will take the house to new highs.”

Mr. Gaultier, who had owned 55 percent of his fashion house, is selling a 15 percent stake to Puig. “It gives me a lot of joy,” he said. “I am not interested in management. I love clothes and I will have the freedom to concentrate on that.”

Marc Puig, chairman and chief executive of Puig, based in Barcelona, said in a statement that his company was “very proud to take over from Hermès and continue the development” of “a brand with such great creativity.”

The Spanish company supports the fashion houses of Nina Ricci, Carolina Herrera and Paco Rabanne and creates fragrances for Comme des Garçons, Prada and the actor Antonio Banderas. The company is growing and eager to raise its profile beyond Europe, where it does more than half of its business.

Hermès is repositioning itself after the unwelcome intrusion into its capital by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the luxury conglomerate run by Bernard Arnault. LVMH now holds more than 20 percent of the equity in Hermès, though the ownership structure of the family-controlled luxury company gives Hermès effective control of its destiny for now.

Mr. Gaultier’s cheeky fragrances, including some in bottles shaped like a woman’s body, have been a long-term financial success, making the brand attractive to Puig despite weaknesses elsewhere in the Gaultier lineup. The haute couture line, founded in 1997, just breaks even, although it has a regular clientele. Mr. Gaultier said high-end fashion would be continued in the new deal.

Mr. Gaultier became known in the 1970s for channeling street style and diverse cultures into French fashion. His impertinent and outrageous creations, which included cross-gender models on the catwalk, have been worn by rock stars like Madonna and Lady Gaga. He has also worked with the Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar.

Puig, founded as a cosmetics company in 1914 by Antonio Puig, booked net profit of 130 million euros last year on revenue of 1.2 billion euros. Its share of the so-called prestige perfume market rose to 7 percent last year from 3.7 percent in 2005, the company said.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=25455d187bcc2358d9606ac5c06fce30