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Selected Case

published: 03 Jan 2006

  • Topic: Family Business
  • Industry: Pharmaceutical
  • Region: Asia

This case and teaching note explore one of Singapore's early entrepreneurs and the family business empire he created. Eu Tong Sen started from humble beginnings as tin miner, and over the next 50 years built a family firm that included mining, rubber plantations, real estate and banking. One of his early ventures in traditional Chinese medicine is the only operating company the family still controls. The second generation of the Eu family was racked by conflict and legal battles as the 24 children of the founder and his five wives have fought for control of the family dynasty. The case explores how Richard Eu, a grandson of the founder, united his cousins in an alliance to stop their father's feuds and regenerate the traditional Chinese medicine business into one of the few companies on the Hong Kong stock exchange that actually improved its performance and stock price during the recent SARS epidemic.

Pedagogical Objectives:
This case explores the impact of family relationships (the founding entrepreneur had five wives resulting in 24 children and 72 grandchildren), changes in the business environment, the need for improved structures and systems as the family matures and the power of regenerating a business around a family's values. The case and teaching note will examine the problems confronting traditional family business and how the next generation of Western-trained family members can blend traditional and Western thinking to create value for the family.

Asian Family Business, Chinese Family Business, Chinese Entrepreneurship, Family Conflicts, Family Business Strategy, Next Generation Leaders, Wicfe, Succession, Next Generation, Fair Process, Communication, Psychology, Gender, Governance, Parallel Planning, Strategy, Boards