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Sonae

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Sonae is a conglomerate
Conglomerate (company)
A conglomerate is a combination of two or more corporations engaged in entirely different businesses that fall under one corporate structure , usually involving a parent company and several subsidiaries. Often, a conglomerate is a multi-industry company...

, and is the largest private employer in Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

. The company is primarily engaged in the operation of retail stores through its subsidiary Modelo Continente.

Additionally, the company operates other businesses including real estate development, communication and information technology services, tourism services and other related activities through its subsidiaries Sonae Sierra, Sonaecom, and Sonae Distribuição. Sonae operates primarily in Europe. It is headquartered in Maia
Maia (city)
Maia is a city in northern Portugal, located in Maia Municipality. It includes the parishes of Gueifães, Maia and Vermoim, and has 35,625 inhabitants.-History:In 1902, Maia received the status of vila...

 and employs about 39,000 people. Sonae SGPS, the holding company
Holding company
A holding company is a company or firm that owns other companies' outstanding stock. It usually refers to a company which does not produce goods or services itself; rather, its purpose is to own shares of other companies. Holding companies allow the reduction of risk for the owners and can allow...

, is listed on the Euronext Lisbon
Euronext Lisbon
Euronext Lisbon is a stock exchange in Lisbon, Portugal. It belongs to the NYSE Euronext group, the first global stock exchange.Euronext Lisbon trades equities, public and private bonds, participation bonds, warrants, corporate warrants, investment trust units, and exchange traded funds...

 stock exchange. The president and main shareholder is Belmiro de Azevedo
Belmiro de Azevedo
Belmiro Mendes de Azevedo is a Portuguese entrepreneur, ranked by Forbes as the 605th richest person in the world , as well as the 2nd richest in Portugal, with an estimated wealth of US$2 billion...

, one of the most influent Portuguese businessmen and a Forbes
Forbes
Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...

 fortunes figure. Sonae was originally an acronym standing for Sociedade Nacional de Estratificados (roughly, National Company of Engineered wood). Engineered wood were the company's original line of business which is now fully integrated into the totally autonomous spin-off Sonae Indústria
Sonae Indústria
Sonae Indústria is a manufacturer of engineered wood products, founded and headquartered in Maia, Portugal. Present in twelve countries within three continents, Sonae Indústria has a wide range of products, from simple board to complete construction systems, a large range of wood-based products...

. It was the only Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 company to be included in the list of the 110 World's Most Ethical Companies (Ethisphere prizes), in 2011.

Organization


From 2009, Sonae SGPS holds a portfolio of businesses grouped into six sub-holdings:
  • Sonae MC - food, grocery and book retail
  • Sonae SR - non-food retail (white goods, consumer electronics, sporting goods)
  • Sonae Sierra - ownership, management and development of shopping and leisure centers (50-50 joint venture
    Joint venture
    A joint venture is a business agreement in which parties agree to develop, for a finite time, a new entity and new assets by contributing equity. They exercise control over the enterprise and consequently share revenues, expenses and assets...

     with Grosvenor Group
    Grosvenor Group
    Grosvenor is a privately owned property group with offices in 18 cities. It has four regional investment & development businesses in Britain & Ireland, the Americas, Australia and Asia Pacific; an international fund management business, which operates across these markets and in continental Europe;...

    )
  • Sonaecom - fixed and mobile telecommunications, software consultancy, newspaper publishing (53% stake)
  • Sonae RP - real estate management
  • Investment Management - financial investments


Sonae Sierra was previously majority-owned by Sonae SGPS (under the name Sonae Imobiliária) but since January 2006 became a 50/50 joint-venture with UK's Grosvenor, with Sonae retaining effective management of the company.

Another sub-holding, Sonae Indústria
Sonae Indústria
Sonae Indústria is a manufacturer of engineered wood products, founded and headquartered in Maia, Portugal. Present in twelve countries within three continents, Sonae Indústria has a wide range of products, from simple board to complete construction systems, a large range of wood-based products...

, was spun off to Sonae SGPS shareholders in November 2005.

The role of Sonae SGPS SA is to manage the portfolio while it is the job of its sub-holdings to manage the businesses.

The formal management body of Sonae SGPS SA is the Board of Directors. Over and above the Boards of Directors of the holding and subholding companies, and to ensure greater synergy of capabilities and key competencies, the following non-statutory bodies exist:
  • Board Members Forum (composed of Board Members from the holding and sub-holding companies)
  • Global Advisory Board, made up of well known figures from the business and academic world both from within and outside Portugal, and a source of independent opinion to support decisions of the Board of Directors;
  • Horizontal Projects (made up of staff from different sub-Holdings and dealing with a common subject such as the environment, energy etc. They are coordinated by a member of the Board Members Forum).

Brands


The brands of Sonae include, non-exhaustively:
  • Retail: M24 (convenience and gas-station stores), Continente
    Continente
    Modelo Continente is the biggest retailer in Portugal. Nowadays the hypermarket Continente chain is in Amadora, Antas , Cascais, Coimbra , Covilhã, Guia, Guimarães, Leiria, Lisboa Modelo Continente (full name: Modelo Continente, S.G.P.S., S.A.) is the biggest retailer in Portugal. Nowadays the...

     (hypermarkets), Continente Bom Dia (small-size supermarket
    Supermarket
    A supermarket, a form of grocery store, is a self-service store offering a wide variety of food and household merchandise, organized into departments...

    s, formerly Modelo Bonjour), Continente Modelo (medium-size supermarkets, formerly Modelo), Worten (electronics & home appliance stores), Vobis (computer stores), Modalfa (fashion stores), Sportzone (sportswear stores), Zippy (kids' fashion stores), Star (travel agencies), MaxMat (DIY stores)
  • Telecommunications (including fixed and mobile communications, internet access services, and IPTV): Optimus
    Optimus Telecomunicações, S.A.
    Optimus Telecomunicações, S.A. is a Portuguese GSM/UMTS mobile operator. The company was incorporated at the end of 1997 after winning the bid for Portugal's third GSM license...

    , Rede4, Novis1 , Clix
    Clix (ISP)
    Optimus Clix is the triple play brand of Portuguese telecommunication operator Sonaecom, majority-owned by the Sonae conglomerate, with a participation of France Télécom. Optimus Clix is the main competitor of the dominant operator in the residential market...

    2
  • Newspaper
    Newspaper
    A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

    : Público
    Público
    Público is a Portuguese daily national newspaper.It began publication on March 5, 1990. The newspaper is known as a publication of the French school, with extensive texts and few illustrations...

  • IT Solutions for retail: Tlantic
  • Health & fitness clubs: Solinca


1 Merged with Optimus in 2007 to form Optimus Empresas.
2 Merged with Optimus in 2010 to form Optimus Clix.

History


Sonae was founded in 1959, in Maia
Maia (city)
Maia is a city in northern Portugal, located in Maia Municipality. It includes the parishes of Gueifães, Maia and Vermoim, and has 35,625 inhabitants.-History:In 1902, Maia received the status of vila...

, Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 in the engineered wood
Engineered wood
Engineered wood, also called composite wood, man-made wood, or manufactured board; includes a range of derivative wood products which are manufactured by binding the strands, particles, fibers, or veneers of wood, together with adhesives, to form composite materials...

 business and more specifically the production of high-pressure decorative laminates.

During its first two decades of existence, Sonae stayed as a small to medium-size business, focused on the wood derivatives market
Derivatives market
The derivatives market is the financial market for derivatives, financial instruments like futures contracts or options, which are derived from other forms of assets....

. After the Carnation Revolution
Carnation Revolution
The Carnation Revolution , also referred to as the 25 de Abril , was a military coup started on 25 April 1974, in Lisbon, Portugal, coupled with an unanticipated and extensive campaign of civil resistance...

 (1974) the company was nationalized. It was reprivatized when the communist inspiration of the Revolution fade away. During the 1980s, the company began a period of rapid growth, which coincided with Portugal's entry in the European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

 (before it has changed into the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

). Holding company Sonae Investimentos SGPS (Sociedade Gestora de Participações Sociais), SA (Sociedade Anónima) was created and successfully floated in the Lisbon Stock Exchange in 1985. During this period, Sonae began a process of diversification through the acquisition of a supermarket
Supermarket
A supermarket, a form of grocery store, is a self-service store offering a wide variety of food and household merchandise, organized into departments...

 chain, followed by the launch of the first hypermarket in Portugal, which in turn led to the development of the shopping center business.

The creation of Sonae Imobiliária (Real Estate) represented thus a natural progression, its main objective being the construction of shopping centers anchored by Sonae stores. Sonae Imobiliária opened CascaiShopping in 1991 - the first regional shopping centre
Shopping mall
A shopping mall, shopping centre, shopping arcade, shopping precinct or simply mall is one or more buildings forming a complex of shops representing merchandisers, with interconnecting walkways enabling visitors to easily walk from unit to unit, along with a parking area — a modern, indoor version...

 built in Portugal, and Centro Colombo in 1997 - the first super-regional shopping center and still the biggest in the Iberian Peninsula.

At the same time, Sonae invested in many different areas such as telecommunications, information technology, leisure and tourism.

In 1996, as the challenge of international expansion of its different businesses and the need to concentrate management resources in their development was too apparent, it was decided to split the holding company in two. Thus, sub-holdings Sonae Indústria (already present in Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

) and Pargeste (non-strategic businesses), plus new and emerging businesses (including software and telecommunications) were spun off into a new holding company called Inparsa SGPS, SA. Sonae Investimentos SGPS became a holding company totally dedicated to modern retail business.

In September 1999, the realization that two holding companies were not as effective in creating critical mass as only one, led to the reversal of the 1996 decision. Sonae Investimentos SGPS reacquired Inparsa SGPS and simultaneously acquired Figest, a personal holding of Sonae's President. At the same time, the formal name Sonae Investimentos SGPS, SA was simplified to Sonae SGPS, SA. Sonae's systematic use of its name across the group multiplies its public notoriety. Its portfolio of businesses now ranges from retail
Retail
Retail consists of the sale of physical goods or merchandise from a fixed location, such as a department store, boutique or kiosk, or by mail, in small or individual lots for direct consumption by the purchaser. Retailing may include subordinated services, such as delivery. Purchasers may be...

 and real estate
Real estate
In general use, esp. North American, 'real estate' is taken to mean "Property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals, or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this; an item of real property; buildings or...

 activities through to wood
Wood
Wood is a hard, fibrous tissue found in many trees. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression...

 products, tourism
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

, fixed and mobile telecommunications, construction
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

, transport
Transport
Transport or transportation is the movement of people, cattle, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline, and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles, and operations...

, the media
Mass media
Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...

 and risk capital.

Sonae's remarkable success as a growth company can be attributed to four factors:
  1. Sonae has taken the most advantage of the ups and downs of the stock market in order to raise capital or to withdraw companies from the market, often accompanied by accusations of deceiving small investors (to which Belmiro de Azevedo once replied that the stock market does not go well with morals);
  2. Sonae usually moves into new businesses through joint-ventures, as with France's Continent (later Carrefour) for hypermarkets, France's Champion (later Carrefour) for supermarkets, Germany's Vobis for computer stores, France Telecom for telecommunications, Brazil's Emplanta for shopping centers and, after acquiring the know-how, Sonae usually buys its partners' stakes;
  3. A strong, merit-based managerial culture instigated by its President, personified in the "Homem Sonae" (Sonae Man), a model that follows strict rules, both on- and off-work;
  4. Through all its growth history, Sonae has been majority-owned by Belmiro de Azevedo, who controls directly and indirectly, through his personal holding and foundation, slightly over 50% of shares and votes, which lets him effectively run the company on his own.


Belmiro de Azevedo
Belmiro de Azevedo
Belmiro Mendes de Azevedo is a Portuguese entrepreneur, ranked by Forbes as the 605th richest person in the world , as well as the 2nd richest in Portugal, with an estimated wealth of US$2 billion...

's shares were acquired to the estate of late banker Afonso Pinto de Magalhães who, through his bank Banco Pinto de Magalhães, fully owned Sonae. Magalhães put Belmiro de Azevedo in charge of Sonae during the turbulent years following the 1974 Carnation Revolution
Carnation Revolution
The Carnation Revolution , also referred to as the 25 de Abril , was a military coup started on 25 April 1974, in Lisbon, Portugal, coupled with an unanticipated and extensive campaign of civil resistance...

 that culminated in the seizure of the company by the Government. It was the success in keeping the company running during these years, plus the also successful reclaiming of the company ownership, that led the deceased banker's family to cede the control of Sonae to Belmiro de Azevedo, but not before a protracted legal battle between him and the banker's sons, whom Belmiro de Azevedo accused of incompetence and cockiness.

Shareholders

  • Efanor Investimentos - 52.99%
  • Banco BPI
    Banco Português de Investimento
    Banco Português de Investimento is a major privately owned bank in Portugal. The bank's shares are listed in the Euronext Lisbon's PSI-20 stock index. It runs the banking business with companies, institutional and private clients. As Sociedade Portuguesa de Investimentos it was founded in 1981 by...

     - 8.9%
  • ABN Amro Bank
    ABN AMRO
    ABN AMRO Bank N.V. is a Dutch state-owned bank with headquarters in Amsterdam. It was re-established, in its current form, in 2009 following the acquisition and break up of ABN AMRO Group by a banking consortium consisting of Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Santander and Fortis...

     - 3.5%
  • Deutsche Bank
    Deutsche Bank
    Deutsche Bank AG is a global financial service company with its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. It employs more than 100,000 people in over 70 countries, and has a large presence in Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and the emerging markets...

     - 3.3%


Efanor Investimentos is owned by Belmiro de Azevedo
Belmiro de Azevedo
Belmiro Mendes de Azevedo is a Portuguese entrepreneur, ranked by Forbes as the 605th richest person in the world , as well as the 2nd richest in Portugal, with an estimated wealth of US$2 billion...

.

From euronext's site, euronext.com