Remaining high on our list and holding strong with a $2.5 billion estimated net worth is Dean Metropoulos, 70, Chairman and CEO of the boutique buyout managing firm Metropoulos & Company.
Five years ago, Metropoulos paid $410 million to buy Hostess Brands and return Twinkies to grocery shelves after the company had filed for bankruptcy protection and closed its doors. Hostess has made a remarkable turnaround and Metropoulos made news this past July by announcing the intention to take the company public.
He sold Pabst Brewing for an estimated $750 million in September, 2014, nearly tripling his 2010 investment. His sons, Evan and Daren, both in their thirties, have been and continue to be an integral part of the turnaround of the acquired companies. Pabst remains one of the fastest-growing brewing companies in the United States.
Very well-known in the private equity, investment banking, and financial sectors, Metropoulos has spent decades acquiring, restructuring and growing nearly 80 different businesses involving approximately $14 billion in capital in the United States, Mexico, and Europe. Many of those were subsequently taken public or sold to strategic acquirers.
“We love acquiring and transforming undermanaged companies by investing heavily in operating efficiencies, systems, new products and innovation,” Metropoulos says, “and unique marketing, thus turning them into vibrant, growing businesses. We have been particularly privileged and fortunate to acquire and revitalize brands with deep roots in our American culture and tradition, such as the recent acquisitions of the 170-year-old PBR and 100-year-old Hostess. Our European-acquired brands, such as Perrier Jouet and Mumm Champagnes, among others, often go back 300-plus years: truly humbling heritages. We are proud of the many brands we have been associated with, as well as our non-consumer deals, such as National Waterworks, a very successful transaction of a company purchased from France’s Vivendi, and ultimately sold to Home Depot.
“My sons, Evan and Daren, have been the creative catalysts for repositioning and reinventing these brands, including product and packaging innovations, unique, targeted and highly relevant marketing campaigns, both with traditional and social media as well as highly unusual partnerships with professional athletes such as The Rock, Mankind, Jeremy Shockey, and Clinton Portis among others, including numerous celebrities, feature film and TV programs as well as day and night show appearances. In addition, they have generated many award-winning ads including two of the most highly profiled – one that eclipsed, for example, the 2013 Super Bowl with a $1,500 Will Ferrell ad, and a Hungry-Man ad incorporating several NFL stars.”
Among the well-known businesses Metropoulos & Company have owned include Stella Foods, Morningstar Group, Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, Del Monte Mexico, Pinnacle Foods (now a multi-billion dollar public company), International Home Foods, and Hillsdown Holdings, an $8-plus billion UK holding company taken public in 2004 and today is the largest UK food business.
The Greek-born Metropoulos moved to the United States with his parents at age 9. Typical of many immigrants, his parents worked hard and encouraged their children to pursue their dreams. He remains ever-grateful and humble for their sacrifices and commitment.
After graduate school, Metropoulos joined GTE International as director of finance for Europe, Middle East and Africa residing in Geneva, Switzerland, and later returning to the United States to become GTE’s youngest senior vice president responsible for their international business, including operations in 62 countries.
In November, Metropoulos visited his old alma mater, Babson College, to give an interview about his life story and his rise to success in the business world.
Two years ago, his son Daren made news when he purchased the legendary Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, CA for $100 million. When Playboy founder and Mansion owner Hugh Heffner died in September, Daren was able to take over the mansion.