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JAB Holdings’s takeover of Pret A Manger, the British sandwich chain, is unusual. Not because it is the first food and drink company taken over by the investment group, but because it represents private equity at its most insatiable, but with a twist in the definition of what counts as “long term”.
John Gapper argues in his latest column that JAB is taking a family attitude towards investing. It is retaining a portfolio of companies — such as Krispy Kreme and Dr Pepper Snapple — while investing in them and expanding them. The company might be family owned, but it is also managed by professional executives.
The Pret takeover is an example of deploying family wealth combined with that of other entrepreneurs and family investors. John argues that the sandwich chain has little to fear from the acquisition. JAB purchased Pret at a good price — more than if it had been floated and the group has a history of keeping executives in place and investing in long-term growth. On the other hand, we know little about the Reimann’s, the family behind JAB, aside from what they own. The more companies they gobble up, the odder that will feel.
Supremacy of the dollar
Edward Luce argues that Donald Trump’s economic policies are endangering the status of America’s currency as the global reserve currency. As a result, we may be heading back to an era of multiple reserve currencies he argues.
Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, writes that the EU’s new data protection regulation is creating serious legal obstacles for both companies and individuals. Many parts of the legislation are unclear and could be costly to implement, he argues.
John Thornhill says that artificial intelligence is the key to solving Britain’s crisis in how to manage the National Health Service. Machine learning can save time and money by taking over the boring or repetitive work, improving management and automating patient records.
Best of the rest
Can Ruth Davidson snap Theresa May out of her Brexit delusion? — James Kirkup in The Spectator
Italy’s Crisis — and Europe’s — Francesco Ronchi in The Wall Street Journal
What on earth happened to poor Tommy Robinson? 10 Things You Should Know — The Secret Barrister
The Alex Jones Presidency — New York Times editorial board
Cutting short Gavin Williamson was the most popular thing I’ve ever done — Richard Madeley in The Guardian
What you've been saying
Oxford cannot offer places to those who do not apply— letter from Jeremy Hicks:
I am a state-educated alumnus, I have read the Oxford admissions report to judge the statistics and I have questioned my college about its outreach programmes. I am convinced that the college and the university want the best undergraduates and that the statistics cited by Mr Lammy are not good evidence to the contrary.
Oxford seeks to be colourblind and to aim off for socio-economic disadvantage. What it cannot do is to offer places to those who do not apply. Mr Lammy should be telling his bright young constituents to push themselves forward, not discourage them by telling them that Oxford belongs to the “upper classes”. If he believes it to be a bastion of privilege he should be telling them to storm it.
Comment from The real greybeard on Britain’s foreign policy lacks vision for its post-Brexit future:
Much of what the Foreign Office used to do has been obsoleted by technology, particular travel and communications technology. Nowadays when people want to talk with principles it is very simple — I imagine Macron and Merkel have a direct WhatsApp chat when needed, and without going through a "Foreign Secretary" and his hierarchical department. Trump puts a call into May when he wants to hector the UK. Likewise business people don't need the Embassy to organise their trade contacts.
The other major job done by a Foreign Office — providing reliable input on foreign affairs — needs a complete redesign if the effectiveness of HMG is anything to go by. We don't understand EU even, our closest neighbour. We did not see Trump coming. As for the Middle East.
Corporate leviathans threaten rural economy— letter from James RB Odgers:
The competition authorities seem to be craven when faced with the power of these leviathans of commerce. The rural economy, for instance, has been almost wholly destroyed by what is clearly an oligopoly and yet we are told that there is sufficient competition between these vast concerns to meet the needs of consumers.
TS Eliot wrote: “When the Stranger says: ‘What is the meaning of this city, do you huddle close together because you love each other?’ What will you answer? ‘We all dwell together to make money from each other’? or ‘This is a community’?”
An unusual family approach to investing
JAB’s acquisition of Pret A Manger resembles private equity but with a long-term twist
Instant Insight: Martin Sorrell’s return to advertising begs so many questions
WPP investors deserve a better explanation for his sudden exit six weeks ago
The US is writing itself out of the Middle East
Donald Trump’s preference for posturing over policy has given Putin more leverage
Donald Trump is jeopardising the dollar’s supremacy
Markets want the rule of law, stability and leadership. The president risks all three
EU data privacy laws are likely to create barriers to trade
GDPR creates serious, unclear legal obligations for both private and public entities
Free Lunch: Greater risk is as much of a scourge as stagnant incomes
Economic security must be a priority beyond the welfare state
Trailblazers bring Indian sexuality out of the shadows
LGBT groups are making progress against a Victorian-era law that criminalises gay sex
To fix healthcare let AI do the dull, routine work
Machine learning can save time and money by improving patient records and management
Markets Insight: Markets remain unforgiving on populists’ debt diagnosis
Italy’s Five Star and League won’t be given the benefit of the doubt on policy
FT View: Puerto Rico’s ordeal by hurricane is not yet over
The public health crisis was far worse than official data recognise
FT View: Brexit Britain must not cede control of the City
London should prioritise regulatory autonomy in financial services
The Big Read
The Big Read: VAT: Brexit’s hidden border dilemma
The UK will have to choose between costly delays or staying within the EU system