Monday, December 31, 2012
Reverse Warrants: Here are the Danish Royal Corporate Sponsors: Getting Derf and Yrma Coddled with Freebies While Denying Jobs to Danes
Kudos to Jens Høvsgaard who is a journalist and author. He has just published the book 'It Costs a Kingdom', which goes behind the royal family's money and privileges. It's not a pretty picture. Here, he explains more in detail about what is so wrong about the appearance of Derf and Yrma promoting "Danish" companies, when in reality, those companies are not giving back to anyone in Denmark except to the uppermost management and owners. Not so coincidentally, those same people are some of Derf and MoreMore's best friends. Mary's excuse is that she's an ugly bogan. What's Derfie's?
What is not mentioned in the article is how Mary's stylist Anja works for Marianne Dulong and got the contract to alter and redesign Queen Ingrid's ruby parure; how Fred's friend Ditlev Ahlefeldt-Laurvig's wife Jean works for Georg Jensen PR; how LEGO CEO Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen was touring Legoland with the Derfies this past summer and getting cosy with Madam in the back of the log ride and whose private jet has taken Madam to Scotland with baby Christian and to Switzerland for Verbier snow posing; Danfoss supplied a private jet to the Derfies so that they could safely leave Thailand during an uprising a few years ago that should have been predicted, but Danish business interests first, eh?; Vestas hired Professor Jock 'Half-Mast' Boganson to be their wind ambassador and their CEO's wife was Princess Marie's first lady-in-waiting; How Jock made other clumsy and failed attempts to get his foot into the Danish or Australian business world; Christian's godfather Jeppe Handwerk is basically a war profiteer in Afghanistan via his company the Copenhagen Group A/S; and most notoriously, how Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, the richest man in Denmark until his death in April of this year via his shipping empire, was so good about keeping the royals in cotton wool that he earned himself an Elephant Order! Not to mention Mary's side job trying to break into the Aussie business world by being a royal model with Huggies, JetStar, and Dulux paints.
The Royal House's Focus on Business Does Not Create Jobs
The Danish Crown Prince Couple has just returned from a trade promotion in China. Top businesses rejoice and talk about great opportunities in the Far East. But unemployed Danes should not expect that Mary and Frederik's Asian offensive results in employment in Denmark. The companies that took part in the royal promotional trip have already sent tens of thousands of jobs out of Denmark and continue to do so.
Georg Jensen, LEGO, Danish Crown, Arla, Kopenhagen Fur and Fritz Hansen. As usual, the old guard and the royal house are major sponsors of private services and fashion articles that stood in the front line, when Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary in the past week made an official visit to the two Chinese cities of Hong Kong and Beijing.
In the official programme prior to the visit the court wrote: "His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary's visit will focus on commercial and cultural activities, which aim to strengthen the bilateral relations between Denmark and China." Implied: The trip to China would put money in the till and create growth in Denmark.
But is this how it actually happens?
If you take the trouble to dig a little into the participating companies' back catalog, there is little evidence to suggest that the royal visit to China can grow Denmark's bottom line. Or give hope for the thousands of families this year who may celebrate Christmas bound in the fear of having to leave their homes because of the unemployment and financial crisis.
When you run through the royal visit's programme, you can read about how the royal couple on the first part of the trip was to visit the Danish jewellery company Pandora's new store in the mall Hysan Place in Hong Kong and then the Danish jewellery and design firm Georg Jensen's store in the IFC Mall in the same city.
It must be said to be something of a stretch to call Georg Jensen a Danish jewellery and design company. In November, equity fund Axcel sold the Danish treasure to a company based in the Arab dictatorship of Bahrain for 809 million kroner. Axcel had control of Georg Jensen since 2001 and in 2007 moved the majority of jewellery production from Denmark to Thailand, where low-paid silversmiths could get better returns for the private equity fund owners.
Now Pandora can boast about having created production in Denmark. The company's charms and rings are manufactured in Thailand, and although Pandora at one point peaked stock index and made people like Kasi-Jesper billionaires on paper, the jewellery bubble then burst to such an extent that the FSA in January this year was forced to sign over the company to the police.
Is Arla any better?
The royals' faithful companions on official visits abroad, LEGO, Arla and Danish Crown, are not exactly known for breaking the unemployment curve in Denmark. And there are not many signs in the sun and the moon that they will do so after the Chinese visit.
Arla has indeed taken large Chinese orders for long-life milk home to the Danish and Swedish cooperative farmers, but it is not Danish dairy workers or other of the country's 167,000 unemployed who will benefit from the UHT order.
However, there is reason to say "Vielen dank, Arla!" in northern Germany. Already in November, the newsletter Ecology & Commercial mentions that it was one of Arla's newly acquired dairies in northern Germany, that was chosen as a shipping channel for long-life milk to the Chinese market. Here, local food scandals have the country's growing elite ready to pay up to 30 dollars for a litre of long-life milk from cooperative farmers' surpluses.
Not Arla's administrative staff can see the future with confidence in this meeting even if money is pouring into the dairy company's cash. In 2008, 140 positions in the accounting department moved to Poland, and in a press release in May of this year when it was reported that another 250 administrative employees could see the directory for continued employment, Arla's CEO, Peter Tuborgh said: "Our revenue is growing, and the growth will continue. But it is our responsibility to all shareholders and other dairy farmers who invest their milk and money in Arla that we understand to increase revenue significantly faster than the costs. Our international competitors have been quicker to turn ideas into action, and therefore need Arla to get a more structured and simplified way to work. It is what is the purpose of this resolution."
Polish Swans and Eggs
Also, Danish Crown has started in sales in China, where pork is in high demand. But while Chinese consumers are ready to put teeth in ears, snouts and toes, it is not Danish slaughterhouse workers who will benefit from the many alternative cuts. Within a few years, the slaughterhouse company sent 7,000 Danish jobs abroad. The latest are from Esbjerg, Sæby and Hadsund, where 700 abattoir workers have had to leave their meat knives and safety gloves to colleagues in northern Germany and Poland.
It is also Poles who in the future will be responsible for production of the Danish furniture classics from Fritz Hansen A/S. After 140 years shuts down the company for all production in Denmark and sends Series 7 and the [iconic] Ant Chair to Poland, where both the [legendary] Egg Chair and the Swan Chair are already being produced.
'Something for nothing'
As is customary in the royal business promotion, there was also the LEGO program in China. But even if all the world's children and their parents again have become aware of the brilliant blocks, it is not idle hands in Denmark to pat the miracle of LEGO. A large part of the production will be relocated to the Czech Republic and Mexico, and right now, the possibilities for further relocation of production. And here is China and neighbouring countries in Asia top of the list.
In my book I describe the close relationship between certain parts of the Danish business community and the royal family and how members of the royal family willingly act as billboards for the companies that fund their leisure activities and wardrobe. So it was on the trip to China.
Georg Jensen, who has donated to Crown Princess Mary a watch worth 110,000 kroner, got a royal visit to their store in a Chinese shopping centre, and it put on a fashion event, where Kopenhagen Fur and eyewear company Lindberg were the main attractions, too. The two companies both have royal Royal Warrants and put them on their websites and do not hide the fact that they kindly provide the Crown with, respectively, mink and lightweight glasses with titanium.
In general, there are very close ties between the companies and the royal advertising columns. Especially Crown Princess Mary shows her willingness to move forward to sponsor products. Thus, also in China, where she - true to form - had space in her suitcase for a creation from her friend and favorite designer Malene Birger. But even if the princess was so adorable in her new cobalt blue dress, the royal catwalk in the Far East hardly creates jobs in Denmark. IC Companies, who own the Malene Birger brand, make, according to its annual report for 2010-2011, 69 percent of the collection in China, 18 percent in the rest of Asia and the remaining 13 percent in Romania. Yes, the company has moved to Poland.