This year has seen a series of shocks and surprises rock the family business world; two famous retail names – 77-year-old US-based Bashas' and 128-year-old Germany-based Arcandor filed for insolvency – while the former chairman of Samsung was convicted of a family succession scam and the Middle East was shaken by the governance problems of the Saad Group and AHAB.
However, here at www.campdenFB.com we are looking back on the positives of what has been a monumentally difficult year for all business leaders. We want to know who you think has displayed outstanding leadership during the crisis? Who has been able to manage a successful business while others have gone to the wall? Who has been a beacon of long-term value creation and ethical governance that sets family businesses apart from the crowd?
Last year the crown went to Emilio Botin, Santander chairman, for his ability to lead the bank through the difficulties of 2008 and preside over growth in the toughest sector. However, 2009 has proved a more difficult year for Botin as he was forced to deal with the losses Santander suffered from its involvement with the Madoff scheme and later had to defend himself and a subsidiary of the bank against allegations of fraud, again related to Madoff.
Here is the shortlist for the Family Business Leader of the Year 2009:
Paulo Bellini: the 82-year-old co-founder of MarcoPolo, one of Brazil's most respected companies, received an award for the treatment of his employees in September. Although the coach manufacturer's profits have suffered as a result of the economic downturn, the share price has outperformed the Brazilian stock exchange by 86% in the past six months. Marcopolo "is a model in the domestic and international markets" and Mr Bellini "has shown wisdom and clear concern for his workers," said the prizegivers.
Jon and Peter Huntsman: the father and son team presided over a botched sale of the family business last year, but managed to regain their reputations by taking some of the biggest investment banks and private equity groups to court, and winning. At a great time to be acquiring companies and consolidating their position, their war chest stands at $2.75 billion. Meanwhile, in the past six months, Huntsman has outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 196%.
Ronald and Leonard Lauder: the two sons of cosmetics pioneer Estee Lauder oversaw one of the most seamless family business successions ever. The transition, which began back in 2007, was concluded earlier this year when non-family COO Fabrizio Freda, brought in from Proctor and Gamble, was appointed CEO and Leonard's son William took over the chairmanship of the board. Ronald retired from the company's board of directors in July to be replaced by his daughter Jane.
Ferdinand Piech: the Volkswagen chairman may be a controversial figure to have on the list but his success in pushing through the takeover of Porsche has earned him a nomination. Until the onset of the crisis in 2008 it looked likely Porsche, lead by Piech's cousin Wolfgang Porsche, would succeed in its David-versus-Goliath takeover of VW. However Piech eventually won out in the family battle and in a rapid change of fortunes, Porsche will soon come under his control.
Francois-Henri Pinault: CEO of luxury goods firm PPR, Pinault has reaped the rewards of taking a lot of tough decisions in 2007/8. Stepping out of the shadow of his father, the founder who he took over from in 2005, Francois-Henri was quick to spot the onset of the recession. He engaged in aggressive cost-cutting measures, which, combined with his decision to take a controlling share in Puma, has helped PPR avoid the problems facing many others in the luxury industry.
Nobutada Saji: the head of the 110-year-old family-owned Japanese brewers Suntory launched a forward thinking strategy in January by streamlining its organisation. Suntory currently enjoys a dominant domestic market share for many of its products, but with Japan's population set to decrease by a third in the coming decades, expansion abroad is key. Such long-term planning by the founder's grandson has continued throughout the year with the acquisition of Orangina Schwepps in order to increase the company's market share overseas and ongoing talks over a merger with rival Kirin.
If you think we have overlooked someone who you believe deserves the title of Campden FB Family Business Leader of the Year, please