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The Shark Must Keep Swimming

(FILE) Jorge Paulo Lemann(FILE) Jorge Paulo Lemann
The man who eats costs.Photograph by Gustavo Miranda — Globo Globo via Getty Images

Good morning from Davos.

Take time this morning to read my colleague Geoff Colvin’s masterful dissection of how Brazilian private equity firm 3G, the controlling investor in Kraft Heinz, is rapidly reshaping those iconic brands. The firm, overseen by Brazil’s richest man – 77 year-old Jorge Paulo Lemann – and backed by investor Warren Buffett, is a ruthless meritocracy, ready to sacrifice employees and the concerns of local communities in its effective pursuit of profits.

 

Colvin summarizes its acquisition-driven business model succinctly: 3G is “quite possibly the world’s best at creating value by eliminating costs and focusing on the most promising opportunities, but not adept at growing the top line organically. In such a model, performance is front-loaded in the years right after an acquisition…That’s why the shark must keep swimming.” You can read the full story, which is featured in the February edition of Fortune magazine, here.

Davos is still abuzz about the bizarre role-reversal here, with China positioning itself as the champion of open global markets, while the U.S. threatens protectionism and the U.K. retreats from Europe. Meanwhile, at Fortune, we took the opportunity to announce dates for the next Fortune Global Forum: Dec. 6-8 in Guangzhou, China. This gathering of top CEOs from around the globe will be an opportunity to explore how both changing political dynamics and rapidly advancing technologies are fundamentally altering the nature of business. It’s an invitation-only conference, but you can request an application here.