LUXEMBOURG — The pending purchase of Panera Bread Co., St. Louis, represents only the latest in a veritable blizzard of acquisitions by Luxembourg-based JAB Holding Co. over the past five years. The transactions have been heavily focused in two food product categories: coffee and grain-based foods.
JAB Holding, together with JAB Consumer Fund, are headed by three senior partners: Peter Harf; Bart Becht, chairman; and Olivier Goudet, chief executive officer.
Together, the two groups hold controlling interests in Keurig Green Mountain (acquired in 2016, for $13.9 billion), the leader in single-serve coffee and beverage technologies; Jacobs Douwe Egberts, the largest pure-play fast moving consumer goods coffee company (2015 merger in which Mondelez was paid €3.8 billion and holds a 44% interest); Peet's Coffee & Tea, a premier specialty coffee and tea company (2012, $1 billion); Caribou Coffee Co., a specialty retailer of premium coffee products (2013, $340 million); Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Inc., quick-casual restaurant business (2014, $374 million); Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, a global donut retailer and wholesaler (2016, $1.4 billion); and Espresso House, the largest branded coffee shop chain in Scandinavia (2016, $238 million).
JAB Holding also is the largest shareholder in Coty Inc., a cosmetics business, and owns controlling stakes in several luxury goods companies, including Jimmy Choo, Bally and Belstaff as well as a minority stake in Reckitt Benckiser P.L.C., a global leader in health, hygiene and home products.
While JAB’s dramatic emergence in the food business and its dizzying pace of acquisitions may suggest an upstart in the business world, JAB Holding is anything but a new company. The company’s roots date back to the early 19th century, when Johann A. Benckiser founded Benckiser as an industrial chemicals business. It was not until the 1950s that Joh. A. Benckiser entered the consumer products business, initially with household cleaning products. In 1999, Benckiser merged with Reckitt & Colman to become Reckitt Benckiser.JAB is owned by the Reimann family of Germany, descendants of Ludwig Reimann, a chemist, who joined Johann A. Benckiser’s business in 1828, married Mr. Benckiser’s daughter and eventually owned the business.