A peek inside JAB Holding

THE REIMANNS are as fabulously rich as they are faceless. On turning 18, each of Albert Reimann’s nine children signed a codex, pledging to stay out of Benckiser, the family chemicals business in Ludwigshafen, Germany, and never show their face in public. Reimann died in 1984, leaving each of his offspring with 11.1% of his company. Good luck finding a photograph of any of them, including the five who have sold their stakes in the family concern. Its public face is Peter Harf, a Harvard-educated manager whom Albert hired in 1981 as an adviser. A restless sort, with a sharp mind and a dislike of sharp suits, which he spurns for jeans and colourful shirts, Mr Harf transformed Benckiser from a medium-sized manufacturer typical of Germany’s Mittelstand into an international consumer-goods powerhouse overseeing operating companies worth some $120bn.

JAB Holding, as the Luxembourg-based group was renamed in 2012 in honour of its founder, Johann Adam Benckiser, is as anonymous as its camera-shy owners. Its assets are anything but. Having sold off the last of its stake in Reckitt Benckiser, a London-listed consumer-goods group, in 2019, JAB has focused on three main business lines. The first two revolve around caffeine and carbs. Over the years JAB has snapped up purveyors of coffee (like Keurig and Jacobs) and places to consume it (Peet’s...



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