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VISY Succession Plan Minimises Disruption

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VISY Succession Plan Minimises Disruption

By , April 21, 2009

Richard Pratt’s strong succession plan has been supported in several media articles today, with most praising one of Australia’s most successful businessmen for his foresight and planning in implementing a detailed succession plan ( at least five years ago ) to ensure his business was not consumed by restructuring at the time of his death.As explained by smartcompany.com.au:

It is unlikely that the operations of the Visy paper and packaging empire will be disrupted by the looming death of Richard Pratt, who is gravely ill with prostate cancer.

Over the last five years, Pratt has carefully planned his succession and eased himself out of the day-to-day running of Visy.

Pratt’s son Anthony will assume the role of leader of the Visy empire, which will then be split equally between his three oldest children.

Pratt Industries USA will go to Anthony. The family investment vehicle, Thorney Holdings, will go to daughter Heloise and her husband, Alex Waislitz. Visy Industrial Packaging will be taken over by daughter Fiona and her husband, Raphael Geminder. Each business has been managed by its owners for the past few years.

Visy’s $3 billion Australian manufacturing group, which comprises the Visy Board, Visy Paper and Visy Recycling businesses, will be owned in equal share by the three children.

Pratt’s youngest daughter Paula has a Sydney mansion held in trust for her and is expected to receive a large cash payment in 2016, when she turns 18.

In addition to these carefully-laid family succession plans, Pratt and his family have bought in a team of hand-picked non-family board members, led by former Foster’s boss John Murphy as chief executive and another Foster’s boss, Ted Kunkel, as chairman.

Other board members include former Telstra executive Ted Pretty and former Australian rugby union captain John Eales.

The introduction of executive and board members from outside the family was also part of Pratt’s push to improve Visy’s corporate governance following his confession that the company engaged in a cartel arrangement with rival Amcor.

While it remains to be seen what director Anthony Pratt may make of Visy, his father’s vision to set up a clear, smooth succession process will mean the younger Pratt has a strong platform from which to operate.

Craig West

Craig West

Managing Director | Succession Plus

Craig West is a strategic accountant who has over 20 years’ experience advising business owners. His background as a CPA in public practice, provided invaluable experience in the key issues of concern to business owners. Following 6 years of study to gain two masters degrees, Craig focused on Capital Gains Tax (CGT) for business sales advising on strategic management of tax issues. This experience formed a very strong view that business owners (and often their advisers) were unprepared and unaware of the steps required to prepare a business for exit.

Craig now acts as a strategic mentor for mid-market business owners and has written four critically acclaimed books on employee incentives, succession planning, asset protection and exit strategies. Craig has conducted numerous seminars and keynote presentations throughout Australia & internationally, including adviser education programs for the Institute of Chartered Accountants and CPA Australia.