Sep 28, 2017
The relationship that paved the way for Nestlé's landmark takeover of disruptive coffee firm Blue Bottle began at a film premiere in San Francisco. In 2014, J.P. Morgan's Vice Chairman of Investment Banking Noah Wintroub struck up a conversation with a fellow guest named Bryan at the bar.
"We started talking about coffee and he happened to ask me which coffee shops I liked. I told him the truth: Blue Bottle – whenever I can find one, that's where I go. He smiled and asked for my card," says Wintroub.
A week later when they met for coffee, Bryan Meehan revealed he was the CEO of Blue Bottle, and was seeking capital to grow his business. The encounter began a chain of events in which the firm played a pivotal role helping to capitalize the company, culminating in a deal which brought together two different worlds in the consumer space.
Blue Bottle represents a new breed of coffee company taking aim at the traditional market leaders. Its artisanal beans cater to a growing section of drinkers seeking the highest quality and prepared to pay for it.
Last year, Wintroub and Meehan were discussing what was going on in the world of coffee and began exploring the idea of a partnership to spur expansion.
"As a consumer giant, Nestlé could help Blue Bottle grow in some crucial areas: their capital could build more coffee shops, they could help create a large base of ecommerce subscribers like me and they also had the reach to sell the product into major retail stores," says Wintroub.
In Europe, Nestlé had already expressed an interest to Global Head of Consumer Investment Banking Camillo Greco in developing relationships with disruptive companies and J.P. Morgan's cross-border strength proved critical: He and Wintroub facilitated an introduction to Blue Bottle and this February, Meehan met Nestlé's CEO Mark Schneider in Brooklyn. The two hit it off and Nestlé, Blue Bottle and its advisor, J.P. Morgan, worked to come up with a structure to ensure success.
"I'm immensely proud of what we achieved in this transaction," says Wintroub. "We were the only bank involved and it reaffirms our leadership in the disruptive space. It was a true cross-border effort for the team and an exciting day when it all came together."