Jorge Paulo Lemann is a Brazilian businessman and philanthropist, best known as a co-founder of 3G Capital, a global investment firm. He is one of Brazil’s most prominent figures in finance and investment, often hailed for his impressive business acumen.
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1939, Jorge Paulo Lemann’s parents were Paul Lemann, a Swiss immigrant and founder of the dairy manufacturer Leco, and Anna Yvette Truebner, a Brazilian of Swiss descent. Lemann attended the American School of Rio de Janeiro.
At the age of 14, tragedy struck when his father died in a bus accident in 1953.
In 1960, Lemann earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University. However, he openly admitted that his experience at Harvard was far from enjoyable. Being just 17 years old and missing the warmth of Rio’s beaches, he found Boston’s cold weather and the demanding academic environment difficult to adapt to. Lemann struggled with his studies, which resulted in less than satisfactory grades. At one point, he even considered dropping out after getting in trouble for setting off fireworks on the last day of his freshman year. Nevertheless, he decided to persevere and continue his studies at Harvard.
Throughout his life, Lemann had a passion for inventing and admired Thomas Edison. He tinkered with various machines, though many of his attempts did not succeed. Additionally, Lemann was an enthusiastic amateur tennis player, achieving significant success by winning the Brazilian national tennis championship five times. He had the privilege of representing both the Swiss and Brazilian Davis Cup teams, and he even competed at Wimbledon in 1962.
In the period of 1961 to 1962, Lemann served as a trainee at Credit Suisse in Geneva. Later, in 1966, he faced the first setback in his business ventures when Invesco, a lending company in which he held a 2% equity stake, declared bankruptcy.
Lemann’s professional journey began in earnest when he founded the Brazilian investment bank, Banco Garantia, in 1971. Despite initial struggles, Banco Garantia soon began to flourish under Lemann’s leadership, earning comparisons to Goldman Sachs for its innovative and aggressive business strategies.
Between 1990 and 2001, Lemann held a position as a board member of Companhia Cervejaria Brahma. Additionally, he is currently a director at Endeavor’s Brazil office. Endeavor is an international non-profit organization that identifies and supports impactful entrepreneurs in emerging markets.
In the past, Lemann and his business partners established the private equity company GP Investimentos. Through this venture, they acquired controlling interests in two Brazilian breweries, Brahma beer and Companhia Antarctica Paulista, which later merged to form AmBev. By 2003, AmBev achieved an impressive pretax profit margin of 35% from sales amounting to US$2.7 billion. Their dominance extended over 65% of the Brazilian beer market and nearly 80% of Argentina’s market, along with enjoying monopoly positions in Paraguay, Uruguay, and Bolivia by the year 2004.
In 1998, Lemann and his partners sold Banco Garantia to Credit Suisse for $675 million, marking the end of an era and the beginning of another. Following this, he co-founded 3G Capital in 2004, along with his partners Carlos Alberto Sicupira and Marcel Herrmann Telles.
3G Capital is renowned for its investments in major brands such as Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, and Restaurant Brands International, which owns fast-food giants Burger King and Tim Hortons. The firm also partnered with Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway for the $23 billion acquisition of H.J. Heinz Company, another significant feat in Lemann’s business career.
Through the Lemann Foundation, he actively promotes better education and leadership development in Brazil. He’s also one of the billionaires who have pledged to give away the majority of their wealth through The Giving Pledge, an initiative started by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates.
As for his personal life, Lemann has been married twice and is a father to six children. He had three children with his first wife and three more with his second wife, Susanna. His family resides in Rapperswil-Jona on Lake Zurich, Switzerland, São Paulo, Brazil, and occasionally in St. Louis.
Lemann is known for maintaining a low profile in the public eye. He rarely gives interviews or makes public appearances, which contributes to his relative anonymity in the United States. However, in Brazil, he is highly regarded and often referred to as a “business-class hero,” being compared to the likes of Warren Buffett, Sam Walton, and Roger Federer, as described by Bloomberg.
As of August 2023, Jorge Paulo Lemann is the richest person in Brazil, with a net worth estimated at $25 billion by Forbes. His wealth primarily stems from his successful investments through 3G Capital and his significant stakes in companies such as Anheuser-Busch InBev and Kraft Heinz.
Jorge Paulo Lemann is celebrated for his impressive track record in the world of finance and investment. Some of his achievements include:
Despite his immense wealth and success, Jorge Paulo Lemann is known for his humble demeanor and low-profile lifestyle. He values privacy and is rarely seen at public events, preferring to focus on his business and philanthropic efforts. He does not maintain a public social media presence, believing instead in the power of actions over words.
Although he maintains a low social profile, Lemann's influence in business and his impact through philanthropy reach far and wide, marking him as a notable figure in Brazil and beyond.