This Brazilian billionaire could make or break Bill Ackman's latest big investment

Jorge LemannScott Olson/GettyJorge Lemann.

Activist investor Bill Ackman has made the food and beverage multinational Mondelez International his newest target.

The hedge fund manager is likely to push for the companies to cut costs or sell itself to a rival, according to The Wall Street Journal.

One potential suitor is the recently-merged Kraft Heinz company — now the fifth-largest food company in the world.

The merger of Kraft and Heinz was orchestrated by 3G Capital, which is helmed by Brazilian billionaire Jorge Lemann, and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Ackman himself is an investor in 3G’s funds.

The private-equity firm has wasted little time in shaking up the upper ranks of the newly-combined company, and has a reputation for savage cost-cutting.

Lemann, a Swiss-Brazilian, has gone from journalist to national tennis champion to banker and now billionaire investor. Buffett likes to call him, “Georgie Paolo.”

“Money is simply a way of measuring if the business is going well or not, but money in and of itself doesn’t fascinate me,” Lemann said in January 2008, according to an interview published in HSM Management magazine.

Shows you that he’s just in it for the love of the game.

Lemann was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1939. His father was a Swiss businessman who immigrated to Brazil in the 1920s.

After Harvard, Lemann's life was a mixed bag. He trained at Credit Suisse for a while and worked as a journalist at Brazil's third-oldest paper, Jornal do Brasil.


In 1971 he bought a brokerage called Garantía.

Lemann wanted to turn it into Brazil's Goldman Sachs by adopting the American firm's partnership model. A few years later his current partners, Carlos Alberto Sicupira and Marcel Herrmann Telles, joined him (they are also now billionaires, by the way).

The trio, known as the 'Three Musketeers' would go on to buy Lojas Americanas SA, a now huge chain of retail stores in Brazil in, 1982.

In 1989, Lemann and company acquired the beer company Cia Cervejaria Brahma, foreshadowing things to come. In 1993, he and his partners created the buyout firm GP Investimentos and started buying and selling companies.

Check out a commercial Megan Fox made for Brahma below:

(video provider='youtube' id='sAqlkXonrt4' size='xlarge' align='center')

Along the way, he built Garantía into a powerhouse, eventually selling it for $675 million in 1998.

Marcel Herrmann Telles.

The market crashed just weeks after Lemann bought the bank, but he didn't care. He grew the bank for years until more than $US100 million in trading losses pushed him to sell.

From The Guardian:

A spell in New York watching new derivatives trading operations at Bankers Trust proved influential. In 1998 Garantía was sold to Credit Suisse First Boston, for $US675m.

Lemann is super private about his personal life, but we do know he moved to Switzerland in 1999 because there was an attempt to kidnap his children in Rio.

According to The Wall Street Journal, this helped spur Brazil's armoured-car industry.

That same year, the 'Three Musketeers' created AmBev, a master company of all the brewers they had collected.

Carlos Alberto Sicupira

All the while, GP Investimentos was growing into what would be the biggest listed private-equity firm in Latin America.

Lemann and his partners founded a New York City-based firm, 3G Capital, in 2004. Three years later they merged with Anheuser-Busch for $52 billion. In 2010 they bought Burger King.

Sidenote: You can thank Lemann for getting rid of that creepy Burger King king; he fired the ad firm that came up with it.

It set the stage for Lemann's 2013 deal with Warren Buffett -- buying Heinz. The $28 billion deal came together in six weeks. They used code names to keep it private.

AP Images

That takes us to the $10 billion Heinz-Kraft deal. All signs point to more deals from Lemann. People say he changed the way business is done in Brazil.

Brazilian billionaire Jorge Lemann speaks at Harvard

From Bloomberg:

'Jorge Paulo created a whole management culture in Brazil that is extraordinary,' (former Brazilian billionaire Eike) Batista told Bloomberg Markets magazine in an interview in 2012. 'He motivated employees by letting them share the profits -- aggressive, but that leads to results.'

And from Reuters:

'These guys have big ambitions and a lot of capital,' one source familiar with 3G said.

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