.Peet’s Bought for $974 Million

Whoa: The Chron (and others) are reporting that the Emeryville-based, Berkeley-born coffee chain Peet’s is being bought for almost $1 billion in cash (or $73.50 a share) by the German investment group Joh. A. Benckiser. The deal boosted Peets’ share price by about 29 percent after a rough last quarter, according to the Wall Street Journal, but what’s most significant in the long term is probably the fact that the deal means Peet’s will now be a private company: As astute readers of this newspaper may remember, back in September I wrote a cover story about shifting corporate culture, workplace speed-up, and all kinds of other not-awesome things happening at Peet’s — much of which my sources attributed to a pressure to grow that came when the company went public in 2001. Benckiser says the company will retain its current headquarters and organizational structure, so it’ll be interesting to see what, if any changes, the company makes now that it doesn’t have its shareholders to answer to (spoiler alert: I’m not holding my breath, and nor should you). And, N.B., the deal’s not entirely done yet: as the WSJ explains much more elegantly than I ever could, “The nearly $1 billion enterprise value of the JAB agreement could stoke a competing offer or shareholder objections if it is seen to underappreciate Peet’s growth prospects” — which means we all get to keep alive the perpetually circulating rumor that Starbucks is going to buy Peet’s.

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