If his name doesn't ring a bell, you're not alone.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek's Alex Cuadros, the 74-year-old Brazilian is "virtually unknown" in the U.S., but his private equity group now controls three iconic brands worth a combined market value of $187 billion.
Lemann himself refused to be interviewed by Businessweek.
But Lemann, the richest man is Brazil, is wildly successful and well liked, according to the magazine:
In Brazil, Lemann is a business-class hero. He’s the wiry, white-haired conglomerateur who’s part Buffett, part Sam Walton, part Roger Federer. (In his younger days he was a five-time Brazilian national tennis champion.) “Lemann” is shorthand for pitiless efficiency.
And he's lived an interesting life. The entire article is worth reading, but here are a few key takeaways:
Lemann was born in Rio de Janeiro, where he went to an American school and was voted most likely to succeed, even though he spent much of his time surfing and playing tennis.
During a 2011 speech to a group of high school students in São Paulo, Lemann said he didn't like going to Harvard, where he was accepted in 1958. He said he didn't care for the weather and missed home so much he graduated with a bachelor's degree in only three years.
In 1999, three of his children were victims of an attempted kidnapping in Brazil. The driver of their car was wounded when the kidnappers opened fire but the children remained unharmed. In fact, they still went to school that day and Lemann didn't miss any meetings.
He avoids his company's products — he didn't eat a Burger King sandwich until after purchasing the company. He liked that the company made money .
A one-time partner speculated that Lemann plans to use Heinz as an acquisition platform for a company like Pepsi.
The full article is available here.
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