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Family business roundup: Acquisitions for Joh A Benckiser and PPR, Gruma buys back company shares

From tortilla and coffee producers to luxury goods and retail groups, it’s been a week of acquisitions for family businesses in North America and Europe, with companies including Jon A Benckiser and PPR buying new assets.

From tortilla and coffee producers to luxury goods and retail groups, it’s been a week of acquisitions for family businesses in North America and Europe, with companies including Jon A Benckiser and PPR buying new assets.

Joh A Benckiser

Joh A Benckiser, the holding company of the German Reimann family, is to acquire the US’s second largest coffee operator – Caribou Coffee – for about $340 million (€258 million).

Under the deal announced on 17 December, the German conglomerate, whose subsidiaries include shoemaker Jimmy Choo and fragrance company Coty, will pay $16 a share – a 30% rise on Caribou Coffee's closing price on 14 December.

Benckiser acquired US chain Peet’s Coffee & Tea for $974 million earlier this year.

Gruma

Meanwhile, cornflour and tortilla group Gruma, which is controlled by the Gonzalez family, has been busy buying back shares in the Mexico-based company. It has signed a $450 million deal with Archer Daniels Midland for the agricultural giant's 23% stake in Gruma and the purchase of smaller holdings in a number of its subsidiaries, said a statement released on 14 December.

Gruma, whose founder Roberto Gonzalez died this August aged 81, said an additional $60 million could be paid to ADM depending on Gruma’s share price performance and other variables over the next three years.

PPR

In Europe, the Pinault family's luxury group PPR has taken a step to bolster its position in China’s jewellery market.

The Paris-based business, which is chaired by Francois-Henri Pinault, is buying a majority stake in Chinese jewellery brand Qeelin.

The deal is expected to be completed in January 2013 and is part of PPR’s push into Asia’s luxury market.

It wasn't PPR’s only acquisition recently. It also bought Luxembourg-based Abbey Reinsurance from FBD, one of Ireland’s largest insurers, for €35 million earlier this month.

Douglas Holding

In Germany, the Kreke family and American buyout firm Advent International have taken full control of German retailer Douglas Holding.

Under the deal, which was proposed in October, the founding Kreke family increased its stake to 20%, with Beauty Holding Three, a holding company indirectly held by a fund advised by Advent International, acquiring the remaining shares.

"I am convinced that this is an important and positive step for our company’s continued strategic development,” said family member and chief executive Dr Henning Kreke in a statement.

Loblaw

Meanwhile, Canada’s largest food retailer Loblaw, which is controlled by the Weston family through food business George Weston, is planning to set up a real estate investment trust to boost its finances.

According to a statement, the trust would acquire more than Can$7 billion (€5.3 billion) of Loblaw’s real estate assets – whose portfolio currently has a market value of Can$9 billion to Can$10 billion. An initial public offering of the trust is expected in mid-2013.

Family member and chairman Galen Weston Jr, who is married to Bata Shoe heiress Alexandra Schmidt, said: “We expect the REIT to not only unlock value for our shareholders, but also increase our financial capacity to pay-down debt, buy back shares, and create a long-term source of capital to invest and grow.”

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