Dream Big (Sonho Grande): How the Brazilian Trio behind 3G Capital - Jorge Paulo Lemann, Marcel Telles and Beto Sicupira Acquired Anheuser-Busch, Burger King and Heinz ハードカバー – 2014
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Jorge Paulo Lemann, Marcel Telles e Beto Sicupira ergueram, em pouco mais de quatro décadas, o maior império da história do capitalismo brasileiro e ganharam uma projeção sem precedentes no cenário mundial. Nos últimos cinco anos eles compraram nada menos que três marcas americanas conhecidas globalmente: Budweiser, Burger King e Heinz. Tudo isso na mais absoluta discrição, esforçando-se para ficar longe dos holofotes. A fórmula de gestão que desenvolveram, seguida com fervor por seus funcionários, se baseia em meritocracia, simplicidade e busca incessante por redução de custos. Uma cultura tão eficiente quanto implacável, em que não há espaço para o desempenho medíocre. Por outro lado, quem traz resultados excepcionais tem a chance de se tornar sócio de suas companhias e fazer fortuna. Sonho grande é o relato detalhado dos bastidores da trajetória desses empresários desde a fundação do banco Garantia, nos anos 70, até os dias de hoje.
Some years ago, I had the chance to interview for a job at the Chinese operations of InBev (predecessor of AB InBev), and I was struck by the youthfulness of intelligence of their people there (a young gentleman in his early 30s from South America was already running the entire finance and M&A operation of China). Over the years, I have followed some of their transactions and found them fascinating. One can also find these information in some recent Businessweek article like ‘The Plot to Murder America’s Beer’ featuring Carlos Brito (protégé of the three gentlemen), a 2013 article featuring 3G Capital and Lemann), and a most recent one called ‘Burger King is run by Children’.
Lemann started one of the most successful investment banks in Brazil called Garantia, modeled after the mighty Goldman Sachs and later sold to Credit Suisse. They later acquired one of the largest retailers in South America, and learned how to operate it from none other than the king of retail, Sam Walton, himself. Along the way, they also created the first private equity fund in Brazil called GP investment.
The core philosophies of Lemann et al are simple yet powerful:
1. Learn from the best (i.e. Goldman Sachs as role model for Garantia)
2. Use smart and hungry young professionals and give them plenty of opportunities to learn, grow and get rich
3. Take a long-term view with investments (grow the business, not flip them)
4. Take over bloated and inefficient companies and impose discipline (operating goals and expense control) and generate strong cash flow (to either pay down debt or pay dividend); this concept had been applied in the buyout of Budweiser, Burger King, and will likely be applied to Heinz as well. It was also mentioned in Chris Zook’s book Repeatability.
5. Focus & simplicity. The trio is known for only doing few deals at a time and instead focusing on getting results and generating cash flow for each portfolio company.
I would give the book a four star because it captures the history and philosophy of the trio well. On the other hand, I was hoping to see more materials outside the published literature, especially in how they implement the operational improvements and in the case of AB InBev, how they integrated the two companies after the merger.
Overall a very inspiring book.
We have all heard the about the changes 3G imposed on AB, Burger King and Heinz. Although no one likes to hear about or inflict job cuts, by all accounts with this team merit reigns and results follow. No company or system is perfect but too many enterprises claim to be meritocracies where in fact politics and guile are valued above results. Three cheers for 3G and may many others duplicate their model.