Family Capital’s Investment Group of the Year

JAB's biggest acquisition in 2018 - the US bakery and sandwich chain, Panera Bread  (photo: Wikimedia)

JAB's biggest acquisition in 2018 - the US bakery and sandwich chain, Panera Bread  (photo: Wikimedia)

Family Capital’s family investment group of 2018 is the Luxembourg-based JAB Holding Company. The investment group - owned by four members of the German/Austrian Reimann family - has made a big name for itself as a shrewd investor in the consumer goods world, but even more so in the world of coffee, where it has become the second biggest player in the coffee retail market in terms of global revenues, just behind the giant consumer group, Nestle.

With offices also in London, Mannheim, and Washington DC, JAB made a number of sizeable acquisitions in 2017 that have helped to cement its reputation as one of the world’s most savvy family-backed investment groups. Notable deals its subsidiaries made this year included JAB’s biggest - the $7.5 billion acquisition of the US bakery and sandwich chain, Panera Bread, in April. Panera then went on to acquire the Boston-based bakery-cafe chain, Au Bon Pain Holding, for an undisclosed sum.

In fact, Since 2012, JAB has made acquisitions worth more than $40 billion, including its biggest to date, the acquisition of Keurig Green Mountain Inc for $13.9 billion in 2015.

During 2018, JAB also sold its 68% stake in the upmarket shoe company, Jimmy Choo, for $1.2 billion to Michael Kors Holdings. It also offloaded Belstaff, the British heritage fashion brand, for an undisclosed sum. These moves were part of JAB’s strategy to concentrate more on the food, beverages, beauty and consumer products sectors and away from luxury goods.

The four Reimann family owners - Renate Reimann-Haas, Wolfgang Reimann, Stefan Reimann-Andersen, and Matthias Reimann-Andersen - own more than 90% of JAB. The rest is held by its management. The role of the family in the day-to-day running of JAB is minimal, instead, a closely knit group of three senior partners oversees the management of the business, supported by eight other partners. JAB’s CEO is Olivier Goudet, who knows his family businesses - he worked in various senior roles for Mars, Inc., before joining JAB. He is also chairman of the multiple family-owned huge drinks group, Anheuser-Busch InBev.

But perhaps the greatest business talent at JAB are the other two senior partners, Peter Harf and Bart Becht, who were instrumental in the growth of Reckitt Benckiser, the UK-based consumer goods group, which JAB has a 10% stake in. The Benckiser bit of Reckitt Benckiser is where the Reimann family originally made their money; the family business goes back to the early 19th century. Benckiser merged with Reckitt & Colman in the late 1990s - a deal orchestrated by Harf and Becht. In the 2000s, also under the management of Harf and Becht, Reckitt Benckiser went on to be one of the best performing listed UK businesses.

Another important player in JAB’s success is the Chicago deal-maker and family enterprise specialist, Byron Trott. The financier said earlier this year “We’ve (his firm, BDT Capital Partners) advised them (JAB) on every deal...we are a kind of a clockwork team.” Trott is fast becoming the go-to dealmaker for families with considerable capital. His relationship with JAB has no doubt helped in its deal-making success and will continue to do so.

JAB is a great example of how families linked to businesses can reinvent themselves, though the employment of talented managers to build other great enterprises. No doubt, JAB will go on to grow its business in a similar fashion as it has in the past - and its name will continue to be associated with some of the most exciting deals - and lucrative - in the world of family capital.