JAB chairman Bart Becht appears divided with partners

The chairman of JAB Holdings, the acquisition-hungry owner of Pret A Manger and Keurig Dr. Pepper, has terminated after a five-year buying frenzy of 50 billion USD, which has led to a split with its two partners.

According to two people who know his decision directly, Bart Becht, a 62-year senior executive in the consumer goods industry, resigned after failing to convince JAB to cut back on the takeover efforts and focus on improving the operational business in his extensive portfolio Portfolio to focus on companies.

Following the resignation of Mr. Becht, whom JAB described as a retiree, he will step down from eight executive board positions with JAB's portfolio companies, including two chairmen.

The turnaround is the first expression of tension within the JAB created to manage the wealth of the multi-billion dollar, media-savvy Reimann family.

The loss of Mr. Becht, who has been valued for his operational expertise after 12 years at the head of UK household goods company Reckitt Benckiser, could prove to be a setback for JAB at a crucial moment in its development.

The once-obscure investment vehicle has risen to the top of the consumer goods industry by acquiring well-known US brands such as Krispy Kreme, Peet's Coffee and Covergirls, Coty, and directly competes with industry greats such as Nestlé and Coca-Cola L & # 39; Oreal in make-up.

Some observers have criticized his tendency to pay too much for acquisitions.

JAB Holdings will now be led by the two remaining partners: Peter Harf, the familiar confidant of Reimanns, and Olivier Goudet, the former CEO of Mars, who is also chairman of AB InBev. According to the people who were informed about the failure, Goudet pushed for more business and growing assets.

The working relationship between the three men has recently deteriorated, two close people report as exposure to the rapid expansion of JAB began to weigh. The workaholic, Mr. Becht, also felt the desire to resign from an intense day-to-day business, such an employee. After he had expressed a desire to leave, the three agreed that the withdrawal was the best move.

"After almost 40 years in the branded goods business, I have decided to realign my activities and to retire," said Becht in a statement. "It has been a tremendous privilege and a great pleasure to work with JAB and the many employees of its portfolio companies and I wish them continued success."

One person who worked closely with JAB described Mr. Becht's decision as "no doubt a surprise," as the trio of executives recently raised funds from outside investors and became long-term investors.

JAB works much like a private equity investor, but has a much longer time horizon. She is often willing to own portfolio companies for decades and often develops an expansion through acquisitions. Since 2017, more than EUR 5 billion has been raised for the JAB Consumer Fund. For the expansion he is increasingly dependent on money from outside the Reimann family.

Fundraising also coincided with a change in strategy as JAB left its investments in luxury and fashion to focus on what it calls first-class food and drink, casual dining and coffee.

The recent problems of cosmetics company Coty, one of JAB's oldest investments, have given a shining reputation to an accomplished dealmaker.

Coty shares fell 60 percent in the last two years as they struggled to digest a large acquisition of Procter & Gamble in 2016, which was endorsed by Mr. Becht. The decline in the JAB portfolio in the six months to 30 June fell by € 1.3 billion, increasing assets under management to € 23.3 billion over the same period.

The problems at Coty were a symbol of why Mr Becht wanted JAB to focus on less investment to ensure that operations went smoothly, said one of the people who are familiar with his thinking.

To support its future growth, JAB announced on Monday the recruitment of three new partners, all veterans of the food and beverage industry. In total, 8 partners were won among colleagues Harf and Goudet.

It is Fabien Simon, a coffee expert and former Mars chief, who is JAB's chief financial officer, Ricardo Rittes, a Brazilian accused of expanding in emerging markets, and another Mars veteran, Jacek Szarzynski, on the Casual restaurants of JAB concentrated.