Bitter Family Dispute for Power
In 1962 David Alvarez Diez founded the company that would later become Eulen Group, which is still 100% owned by the Alvarez family. In recent years the family has been the subject of frequent media stories regarding the internal battle between David Alvarez Diez and some of his children for control of the family companies. Some Spanish news outlets have referred to the family feud as a “soap opera” or the Spanish “Falcon Crest,” pointing to the alleged start of the dispute to the patriarch’s 2009 marriage to his secretary (his third marriage and the second to a secretary). According to one media outlet, around the same time of his father’s wedding, one the sons – Juan Carlos – was running the company and dismissed one of his father’s trusted advisors. Soon afterwards, David Alvarez forced Juan Carlos out of the company, and instead the patriarch entrusted two of his children – Maria Jose and Jesus David – to help him run the company. In return the other five children ousted the patriarch from another family company – El Enebro. Ever since, the family has been involved in multiple lawsuits in Spain related to the control of the family companies.
Company Lawsuit against Founder’s Son and its Own Former Top Executives
The family and company drama was extended to the U.S. when in 2014 Eulen America filed a lawsuit in Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County against estranged son Juan Carlos Alvarez, along with former Eulen America CEO Luis Rodriguez, former Eulen America CFO Brent Blake, and Mariano Aguilo, a former Director for Eulen Group. Eulen’s allegations include that Juan Carlos committed 80 million euros obtained from the sale of Eulen shares to help finance a scheme to set up another company to directly compete with Eulen in the U.S. According to the suit, the defendants relied on access to Eulen’s confidential information and conspired to undermine Eulen’s business performance and divert Eulen customers, money and crucial personnel to the new competing company for the defendants’ own financial interest and to Eulen’s detriment, causing Eulen to sustain millions of dollars in damages. In a motion to dismiss Eulen’s allegations, Blake—the accused former Eulen CFO—argued that the lawsuit ultimately stemmed from the Alvarez family dispute. The defendants have all denied the allegations and the case is currently ongoing.
Numerous Changes in Leadership at Eulen America
Since the beginning of Eulen’s operations in the U.S. in 2008, Eulen America has undergone numerous changes in leadership. When Eulen America was first incorporated, Mariano Aguilo (who is a defendant in the aforementioned lawsuit) served as the company’s President on record. However, he was removed from that position by 2012 with Luis Rodriguez taking his place. According to filings with the Florida Secretary of State, since the termination of Rodriguez and Blake in 2014, four different people have acted as the company’s president in the last three years and there were other changes in key personnel. One example is Livan Acosta, Eulen’s Chief Operating Officer, who was removed from a Director position in November 2016 after the naming of Alejandro Fonseca as the new president.
What is the Future For Eulen?
Even after David Alvarez’s death in 2015, the family saga continues, and it also brings uncertainty regarding who will ultimately have control over Eulen Group. Currently Maria Jose Alvarez serves as President for Eulen Group, but her siblings have requested a change in the corporate governance structure that would remove her position as Joint and Several Director and instead put in place a Board of Directors. The children are awaiting the execution of their father’s will, and in the meantime, the family lawsuits continue. As recently as February 2017 the siblings have filed a new lawsuit to replace the executor of their father’s will, claiming that he may not be impartial. Eulen’s future is unknown, given that the distribution of the Eulen shares at issue in the father’s estate may determine whether Maria Jose Alvarez stays in power or whether her siblings will gain control of Eulen Group.