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An unusual family approach to investing
May 30, 2018 | FT | John Gapper.

JAB’s acquisition of Pret A Manger resembles private equity but with a long-term twist.

Warren Buffett’s definition of Berkshire Hathaway’s ideal investment holding period as forever. ....Luxembourg-based JAB, owned by four heirs to a German chemical fortune, takes a family approach to investing. It is unusual in that this holding company seeks to retain its portfolio companies for at least a decade. These include Panera Bread, Krispy Kreme and Keurig Green Mountain coffee, which it merged with Dr Pepper Snapple in an $18.7bn deal in January 2018. This week JAB acquired the UK sandwich chain Pret A Manger for £1.5bn, continuing its buying spree of cafés and coffee, mounting a challenge to public companies such as Nestlé.

**These companies are acquired not to be traded but to be invested in and expanded.**

JAB is an innovative combination of ownership and investment in a world that needs challengers to stock market ownership and private equity. It is family controlled, but run by veteran professional executives. When it invests in companies such as Pret A Manger, it deploys not only the Reimann family’s wealth but that of other entrepreneurs and family investors.......Some of the equity for its recent deals, including Panera and Dr Pepper, came from funds raised by Byron Trott, the former Goldman Sachs investment banker best known for being trusted by the banker-averse Mr Buffett. Mr Trott’s BDT banking boutique specialises in advising founders and heirs to corporate fortunes, including the Waltons of Walmart, and the Mars and Pritzker families.

This is investment, but not as most of us know it. By definition, the world’s companies are mostly controlled by founders and their families — only a minority become big enough to be floated on stock markets and need to disclose much of their workings to outsiders. Family fortunes also tend to remain as private as possible: there is little incentive to advertise how much wealth one has inherited......As [families'] fortunes grow in size and sophistication, more of the cash is invested in other companies rather than in shares and bonds. That is where JAB and Mr Trott come in.

Entrepreneurs and their families tend to be fascinated by their own enterprises and bored by managing their wealth. But they want to preserve it, and they often like the idea of investing it in companies similar to their own — industrial and consumer groups that need more capital to expand. It is not only more interesting but a form of self-affirmation for the successful....Being acquired by JAB is appealing. The group turns up, says it will not take part in an auction but offers a good price (it bought Pret for more than its former owner Bridgepoint could get by floating it). It often keeps the existing executives, telling them they have to plough their own money into the company, and invests in long-term growth provided the business is efficiently run.

This is more congenial than heading a public company and contending with a huge variety of shareholders, including short-term and activist investors. It is also less risky than being bought by 3G Capital, the cost-cutting private equity group with which Mr Buffett teamed up to acquire Kraft Heinz. While 3G is expert at eliminating expenses it is less so at encouraging growth.
coffee  dynasties  high_net_worth  holding_periods  investing  investors  JAB  long-term  Nestlé  Pritzker  private_equity  privately_held_companies  Unilever  unusual  Warren_Buffett  family  cafés  Pret_A_Manger  3G_Capital  discretion  entrepreneur  boring  family_business  heirs 
may 2018 by jerryking
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