Even amid a global pandemic, the people behind JDE Peet’s, managed to raise $2.5 billion and take the company public on the Euronext Amsterdam—all in just 10 days. It was Europe’s largest IPO since 2018.
Shares of JDE Peet’s surged 14% in their debut on Friday in Europe. The company, resulting from the merger of Jacobs Douwe Egberts and Peet’s last December, is the world’s No. 2 coffee player, with a portfolio that includes Jacobs Coffee, Douwe Egberts, Peet’s, L’OR, Senseo, Tassimo, Pickwick and more.
But most consumers still know very little about JAB Holding, the investment firm that pulled off the Peet’s IPO, or the family behind it: the Reimanns of Germany. Many coffee lovers are likely not even aware that one company is the owner or majority owner of Peet’s, Panera, Krispy Kreme, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Keurig Green Mountain, Caribou Coffee, Mighty Leaf, Stumptown, Intelligentsia, Espresso House, Baresso, Au Bon Pain, Bruegger’s Bagels, and Einstein Bros. Bagels.
JAB has spent more than $50 billion since 2014 to gobble up coffee, breakfast, and cosmetics names, and has quietly made itself the largest competitor to Starbucks.
JAB is family owned, privately held, and has roots dating back more than 100 years. The four primary owners of JAB are descendants of German chemist Ludwig Reimann, who in the 1800s married the daughter of his business partner, Johann Adam Benckiser. JAB, formed in 2011, gets its name from Benckiser’s initials.
The family is extremely private and does not do press, though one year ago the company did have to publicly comment on a Bild report about the Reimann family’s ties to the Third Reich. The family acknowledged the facts of the Bild report, and a spokesperson said last year: “It’s all correct. The family was absolutely ashamed.” After the report, the Reimann family said it would donate 10 million euros to a charity and hire a historian to investigate their ancestry in detail for a public report.
JAB will remain the majority shareholder in now-public JDE Peet’s, and is the majority shareholder in publicly traded Keurig Dr Pepper.
In many ways, JAB bears similarities to Anheuser-Busch InBev: a massive conglomerate formed through a long series of voracious M&A.
In 2004, Belgian brewer Interbrew (a combination of Belgian and Canadian brewers, formed in 1988) merged with Brazilian brewer AmBev (a combination of Brazilian and Argentinian brewers, formed in 1999) to form InBev. In 2008, Belgian brewer InBev bought St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch to form Anheuser-Busch InBev. In 2012, AB InBev acquired Grupo Modelo, and in 2016, AB InBev bought SABMiller.
JAB—in a much shorter time—has gone on a similar spending run: It bought Peet’s in 2012 for $975 million (and got Stumptown and Intelligentsia along with it), Einstein in 2014 for $375 million, Keurig Green Mountain for $14 billion and Krispy Kreme for $1.35 billion in 2016, Panera for $7.5 billion in 2017, and bought Dr. Pepper Snapple through Keurig Green Mountain in 2018.
And JAB isn’t done: now it’s pushing into pet care (but not pet food), beginning with buying Compassion First Pet Hospitals for $1.2 billion last year.
Daniel Roberts is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance and often covers the beverage business. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.