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Forbes Asia Archives ✔️ News For Finance
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Singapore-listed Olam International said its food ingredients subsidiary is buying Olde Thompson, a U.S.-based maker of private label spices and seasonings, at an enterprise value of $950 million.

The agricultural commodities trader said in February that it has appointed financial and legal advisers to prepare for the initial public offering of Olam Food Ingredients (OFI), which supplies cocoa, coffee, nuts, spices and dairy. OFI said the acquisition of Olde Thomson will transform its spice business and be earnings accretive from the first year onwards.

“Growing our offerings of private label solutions is right at the heart of OFI’s strategy–and within that spices is one of the most attractive and growing categories, especially in the U.S.,” OFI’s CEO Shekhar Anantharaman said. “This will enable us to offer consumers a comprehensive range of bold, authentic, natural taste and flavors with end-to-end traceability.”

The transaction, which is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2021, is expected to generate potential EBITDA synergies of as much as $30 million, OFI said.

Olam was founded in 1989 by Sunny Verghese, who had regularly featured in the list Singapore’s 50 Richest until 2011. He lost his place in the rankings after Olam’s shares tumbled in 2012 as U.S. short seller questioned the company’s accounting practices and viability.

In 2014, Singapore state-owned investment firm Temasek boosted its shareholding in Olam and now holds 53%. A year later, Japan’s Mitsubishi invested $1.1 billion in the company and currently holds 17%.

Verghese, who has a 4.3% stake and currently is the group’s CEO, has been driving Olam’s expansion in recent years through acquisitions such as the purchase of Archer Daniels Midland for $1.2 billion in 2015, which, according to DBS Group Research, has made Olam one of the top three global cocoa processors.

Nexon Co., the South Korean online gaming company founded by billionaire Kim Jung-ju, said it has bought $100 million worth of bitcoin amid a rebound in the cryptocurrency.

Tokyo-listed Nexon joins a growing list of global companies, including Elon Musk’s electric carmaker Tesla, that have invested in the digital currency. Nexon’s bitcoin investment represents less than 2% of the company’s cash hoard as of December 2020.

“In the current economic environment, we believe bitcoin offers long-term stability and liquidity while maintaining the value of our cash for future investments,” said Owen Mahoney, president and CEO of Nexon.

The gaming giant has been on an investment spree since June last year, when it announced its plan to invest $1.5 billion in listed entertainment companies. So far, Nexon has invested $874 million in U.S. toy maker Hasbro and Japanese game companies Bandai Namco, Konami and Sega Sammy.

While bitcoin has been volatile, Mahoney said the investment “reflects a disciplined strategy for protecting shareholder value and for maintaining the purchasing power of our cash assets.”

Kim, who founded Nexon in 1994, was one of the biggest gainers on last year’s South Korea wealth rankings. He was ranked No. 3 with a net worth of $9.6 billion, up 52% from the previous year, as global lockdowns and social distancing gave people more time at home to play games. Major games published by Nexon include MapleStory, KartRider and Dungeon & Fighter.

“I think we’re going to look back in 20 years and we’ll say [the pandemic] was the turning point in the entertainment industry,” Mahoney told Forbes Asia in a video interview in July.

Roy Chung, a cofounder of power tools maker Techtronic Industries (TTI), has joined the ranks of the world’s billionaires with an estimated net worth of $1.1 billion, thanks to the recent rally in the company’s shares.

Techtronic, which is known for its Milwaukee and Ryobi brand of cordless power tools, has seen its shares soar 244% since March last year as Covid-19 tilted the global economy into recession. Lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the illness proved to be an unexpected boost for the company: Consumers who were confined to their homes decided it was a good time to spruce up their surroundings with repairs and improvements, fueling demand for TTI’s line of tools and supplies.

The company that Chung, 68, and Horst Julius Pudwill, 76, cofounded in Hong Kong in 1985 has come a long way. Last month, TTI reported an annual revenue of $9.8 billion for 2020, up 28% from the previous year, narrowing the gap with global rival Stanley Black & Decker, which reported an annual revenue of $14.5 billion last year.

“We are positioned to capitalize on the many growth opportunities we have identified in the months and years ahead,” Pudwill, who is currently chairman of the company, said in a statement after Techtronic released its latest financial report.

Pudwill debuted on Hong Kong’s wealth ranking in 2014. His net worth of $1.14 billion placed him at No. 43 on the list, whereas this year he rose to No. 12 with a net worth of $6.7 billion. Pudwill recently featured in a Forbes Asia magazine cover story, where he and vice chairman Stephan Horst Pudwill (his son) discussed TTI’s adjustments to the pandemic.

Chung, nicknamed “The King of Power Drills” by local media, retired from his executive role at TTI in 2011, and now is said to be focusing on philanthropy though the Bright Future Charitable Foundation, which he established in 2015. The foundation provides scholarship for students to further their education, advocating lifelong learning and continuing education.

A native of Macau, Chung moved to Hong Kong in the 1960s when he was 16 years old. There he worked as warehouse keeper while studying in the evenings. Chung holds a doctorate degree of engineering from the University of Warwick, U.K., and a doctorate degree of business administration from the City University of Macau. He was named Hong Kong’s “Industrialist of the Year” in 2014.