France: The Bandage Kings

Four burly, unsmiling men in a black Mercedes-Benz limousine drive unannounced to the doors of a floundering textile company. Brusquely, they insist on seeing the owner—and they offer him a proposition for a takeover on the spot. France's Willot brothers—Bernard, 45, Jean-Pierre, 40, Antoine, 38, Regis, 35—have made that scenario increasingly familiar in European industrial circles. They make it their business to find out about textile firms in financial trouble and move in to grab control at bargain prices. In ten years of incessant acquisitions, they have stitched together the biggest textile combine in the Common Market, comprising some...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!