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Billionaire Reimann family adding Krispy Kreme to its empire in $1.35 billion deal

The Reimann family, one of Europe’s wealthiest business dynasties, has the coffee. Now, it wants the doughnuts.

After building a coffee empire ranging from hipster Stumptown Coffee Roasters to single-serve mainstay Keurig, the Reimanns’ JAB Holding investment company wants its growing stable of consumer brands to add some high-calorie oomph: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc.

The $1.35 billion deal, announced Monday, puts the intensely private Reimann clan — Wolfgang, Stefan, Renate and Matthias — on a potential collision course with Krispy Kreme’s rival of the moment, the mighty Starbucks Corp.

It also trains a spotlight on JAB, whose stewardship of the Reimann fortune has drawn comparisons to 3G Capital, the Brazilian private equity giant run by the billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann. JAB, run by a trio of trusted Reimann advisers, is coming off a four-year acquisition spree in which it spent about $30 billion taking controlling stakes in Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee, Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Espresso House and Baresso Coffee.

“They’ve been slowly amassing a pretty big umbrella of breakfast- and coffee-oriented brands, and so Krispy Kreme slides underneath that umbrella pretty easily,” said Will Slabaugh, an analyst at Stephens Inc.

Krispy Kreme gained fame with its yeast-raised, glazed doughnuts, and made a major move into java only in recent years as its pastries fell out of favor. The chain introduced a new line of coffee blends in 2011 and gradually added espresso-based drinks to the menu. That push — which also included promotions and redecorating some of its locations — brought it into more direct competition with Starbucks.

The increased competition from its smaller rival hadn’t made a dent in Starbucks business. The company’s sales climbed about 17 percent last year, helped by new food offerings and its expanding loyalty program.

That could change, though, with Krispy Kreme now having a wealthier backer with a cadre of high-end coffee brands at its disposal.

“The biggest opportunity near term would be to put some of their coffee brands they already own — which are world class — into Krispy Kreme stores, and I think it would be a pretty nice sales lift immediately,” Slabaugh said.

JAB is buying Krispy Kreme through its JAB Beech subsidiary, which has Byron Trott’s BDT Capital Partners as a minority investor. After the transaction closes, Krispy Kreme will be privately owned.

Krispy Kreme stock already had risen 12 percent this year through last week.

The deal is JAB’s second major coffee-related buyout announced in the past six months. The firm took single-serve coffee maker Keurig Green Mountain Inc. private in a $13.9 billion deal that was announced in December and closed in March.

Alongside its coffee holdings, JAB — run by Peter Harf, Bart Becht and Olivier Goudet — has invested the Reimann fortune in a variety of consumer-goods companies such as fragrance maker Coty Inc. and Durex condom maker Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc.

The four Reimanns each have a net worth of $3.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. A fifth sibling, Andrea Reimann-Ciardelli, sold her stake in JAB in 2003 and has a $1.2 billion net worth.

Seeking a favorable tax environment for the Reimanns, Harf moved their family offices to Vienna from Ludwigshafen, Germany, in 2006. The family traded their German passports for Austrian ones.

For now, coffee is a small part of Krispy Kreme’s business. Almost 90 percent of its revenue came from doughnuts last year. Compare that with Dunkin’ Donuts, which gets most of its sales from coffee. Dunkin’ too has been cited as a possible JAB takeover target, though the firm may take its time before making such a deal, Slabaugh said.

“They probably want to swallow an acquisition like this for a while before looking at something like Dunkin’,” he said.

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