Le cas du transfert de l’entreprise familiale Heineken

Aujourd’hui, je partage avec vous une belle histoire de succession d’une entreprise familiale mondialement connue : Heineken.

Ce cas d’entreprise m’a été proposé par Paul Michaud, un administrateur de sociétés certifié (ASC), une personne expérimentée dans les situations de transferts d’entreprises familiales.

Comme Paul le mentionne : « C’est un cas intéressant ! Le bonhomme est un hybride entre un entrepreneur et un CEO, la fille entre la mère-au-foyer et CEO ».

Je vous invite donc à lire ce cas de relève d’entreprise familiale publié par Patricia Sellers dans Fortune.

Vous trouverez, ci-dessous, quelques certaines conclusions tirées du cas. C’est une belle lecture du temps des Fêtes !


Heineken’s Charlene de Carvalho: A self-made heiress


For anyone who oversees a family business, passing it on to the next generation is the ultimate challenge of leadership. “If we get that wrong, we’ve wasted our energy on all that we’ve built,” says Michel de Carvalho, the investment banker husband of Charlene Heineken.

heineken, de Carvalho family
The de Carvalho family (from left): Alexander, Michel, Charlene, Louisa, Charles, Sophie, and Isabel

Heineken has a stock market value of $44 billion, and Charlene aims to pass on her 25% ownership stake and control of the voting shares more prudently than her father, Freddy Heineken, did to her. So she and Michel have been diligently studying the best practices of passing on a family business. No matter the size of a dynasty, certain basic rules apply.


Other billionaire owners of family businesses have advised the de Carvalhos, regardless of how they divvy up the wealth, to select one of their five children to take control of the company. “But Charlene and I are not yet convinced that we could not have an odd number, perhaps three,” admits Michel, noting that ownership may be a lonely job for one heir. “Had Charlene not been married to someone who has a strong interest in the business, it would have been a terrible burden.”


Don’t trap them,” says Byron Trott, a former Goldman Sachs banker whose merchant bank, BDT & Co., invests in and advises closely held companies. “Allow them to find their passion.” Trott admires the way the de Carvalhos are getting their five children to define their interests, whether philanthropic, arts-related, or corporate. Meanwhile, they’re preparing eldest son Alexander, who works in private equity, to inherit control of Heineken. “He’s on the board. He’s working in the financial industry,” notes Trott. “He understands the rigor of opting in.”


Freddy Heineken stocked his board with yes men, which weakened the company before -Charlene inherited control in 2002. Charlene and Michel’s advice to Alexander or whoever among their children eventually takes control: “Surround yourself with the best possible people who are not yes men and sycophants. You want people who express doubt.”


Family control of a business protects management from “the short-term whims of Wall Street,” enabling it to focus on long-term growth, says Trott. “These companies tend to outperform the market over long periods of time.” Trott advises the de Carvalhos: “Keep doing what you’re doing, because you’re doing it very well.” —P.S.

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