German mega-corporation Joh. A. Benckiser has made California-based Peet's Coffee & Tea an offer it can't refuse. You can imagine the boardroom intrigue. Flanked by 7-foot-tall blondes, a small bald suit holds a pinkie to his lips and hisses an amount the half-shaven, Vespa-driving, kayak-trip-taking Northern California types on the other side of the table don't mind taking one little bit: "One billion dollars." Bond film stereotypes aside, you get the idea.
As reported in news outlets around the country this morning, Joh. A. Benckiser, the investment arm of Germany's prominent Reimann family, will spend approximately $977 million to acquire Peet's.
Peet's was founded in 1966 and has provided, for the past 40-plus years, scrappy competition for Starbucks in California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, and Massachusetts. Some folks think it's odd that the Seattle behemoth wasn't the one dropping ducats on ol' Peet's -- instead of a German company previously focused on investments in perfume and luxury footwear. Over at Forbes, Carol Tice breaks down the reasoning behind Starbucks deciding to take a pass on Peet's a lot better than we can -- and highlights why the Germans elected to come knocking.
The deal should be completed in close to three months. When it's done, Peet's will be privately held. The current management and employees will remain with the company, and its headquarters will stay in Emeryville, Calif. In his Slate column, Matthew Yglesias reports that Benckiser has no "grandiose" plans to reshape the Peet's brand. For loyal "Peetniks" who'd rather suffer headaches and twitch all day at work than sip Starbucks, this is very good news.