Bonnier Group: Sweden's Leading Family Owned Business

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Case Details:

Case Code: BSTR238
Case Length: 17 Pages
Period: 1990-2006
Organization: Bonnier AB
Pub Date: 2006
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries: Sweden
Themes: Family-Owned Business | Corporate Governance
Industry: Media, Entertainment, and Gaming

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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The Sixth Generation

Till the third generation, the concept of single dominant owner prevailed in the Bonnier Group. In the fourth and fifth generations - Tor and Albert Jr. emerged as the leaders and they played a dominant role. Till the fifth generation, ownership control was limited to a few family members.

Even when the number of owners grew, only one family member held the key position and had major responsibilities. However, the succession from fifth generation to sixth generation represented a huge shift. In the sixth generation, there were 28 male and female descendents. The fifth generation encouraged the sixth generation members to take active part in the activities of the group, in order to identify a leader from them.

In order to ensure smooth transition, the sixth generation Bonniers were nurtured from a very young age and were made to understand that they were all equally eligible to hold ownership control in the group.

Another factor that helped in the growth of the family business was the culture of open communication and consensus. All the family members were free to raise questions relating to business decisions during the group meetings.

If the members raised serious objections to any of the projects, the projects were not pursued. In 1990, the members of the sixth generation along with Albert Jr.'s brother Lukas attended an educational program, in which they decided to create a vision to take the group's business forward. At that time, Carl-Johan (son of Albert Jr.'s brother, Johan) was identified as the leader by all the members. He assumed the responsibility of the CEO of the group. Around the time, due to the highly diversified nature of the business, there was a strain on the Group's financial and human resources. Several changes were taking place in the media industry in Sweden with the advent of the Internet. The family decided to consolidate its position in the media business and pull out of other unrelated businesses...

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