Christian Jacobs (businessman)

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Christian Jacobs
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BornFebruary 2, 1962
Bremen, Germany
  • Attorney
  • Entrepreneur

Johann Christian Jacobs (February 2, 1962 in Bremen, Germany) ist a German attorney and entrepreneur.


Jacobs is the oldest son of entrepreneur and philanthropist Klaus J. Jacobs[1] (1936-2008), a member of Bremen’s Jacobs coffee dynasty. His younger brother from his father’s first marriage is Andreas Jacobs (born in 1963). Their great-grandfather was Johann Jacobs (Unternehmer)[2] (1869-1958), founder of the Jacobs company (see Family).

Jacobs grew up in Germany and completed secondary school at the Altes Gymnasium in Bremen. After military service, he studied law and business administration in Freiburg im Breisgau, Munich and Aix-en-Provence. He passed the first state law examination in Freiburg im Breisgau, then, in 1991, the final law examination in Hamburg. He earned his PhD in Freiburg im Breisgau in 1991 with a dissertation on the Bremisches Höfegesetz[3], a statute governing the inheritance of farm property.

He worked at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition in Brussels from 1988 to 1989, then at Roland Berger (Unternehmen), the global management consulting firm, in Tokyo from 1990 to 1991.

Career as an attorney

In 1992, Jacobs joined the European law firm of Büsing, Müffelmann & Theye, in Bremen. Dating back to this period is his relationship with the Kirch-Gruppe, from which he and Robert-Louis Dreyfus purchased Kirch Sports, now Infront Sports & Media, in 2002. While with Büsing, Müffelmann & Theye, he also served as an advisor to Adia Interim, since renamed Adecco S.A., in connection with the deregulation of the temporary-employment market in several European countries. Most notably, Jacobs represented Adia Interim in its lawsuit against the Italian state monopoly of temporary employment and job placement services, which was dissolved by the European Court of Justice in its decision in the case of Job Centre II.[4]

In 1996, Jacobs became a partner in the law firm Huth Dietrich Hahn in Hamburg, where his consulting activities focused on mergers and acquisitions related to the capital market.

He continued his consulting work from 2002 to 2012 as a partner in the American corporate law firm White & Case LLP (White & Case, Feddersen). Because of his ties to the Asian markets, during this period Jacobs was also chosen to oversee the firm’s European-Asian M&A activities, which are based in Singapore.

He returned to transaction specialist Huth Dietrich Hahn in 2013.

Entrepreneurial activities

Jacobs is a managing partner at Joh. Jacobs & Co., Hamburg. Together with Robert Louis-Dreyfus and Jacobs Holding, the subsidiary and investment specialist Sentosa Beteiligungs GmbH purchased Infront Sports & Media (formerly Kirch Sports) in 2002; it was subsequently sold in 2011. In 2008, the investment firm Sentosa held 6.7 percent of CeWe Color Holding AG[5], which it had acquired in cooperation with Norddeutsche Landesbank in the course of a takeover bid by American hedge funds. Since 2011, Sentosa has been a leading shareholder in Hemro AG, the world’s leading purveyor of coffee grinders under the brand names Ditting, Mahlkönig and Anfim, and since 2014 Sentosa has also been a partner in DE Master Blenders, which was to be renamed Jacobs Douwe Egberts.

From 2001 to 2004, Jacobs served as chairman of the Board of Directors of Jacobs Holding AG. He was responsible for the company’s successful focus on the subsidiaries Adecco S.A. and Barry Callebaut and its acquisition of Infront Sports & Media. He relinquished the chairmanship of Jacobs Holding to his younger brother, Andreas Jacobs, when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought charges against Adecco S.A., which later proved to be groundless.[6]

Social Commitment

Jacobs has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Jacobs Foundation since 1995. He served as its chairman from 2004 until the end of March 2015. In the course of a generational transition at Jacobs Holding and the Jacobs Foundation, Jacobs’s younger sister Lavinia Jacobs took over as chairwoman of the Jacobs Foundation. Jacobs was named honorary chairman.[7]

Jacobs is a member of the Board of Governors of Jacobs University Bremen, a private higher-education institution. After being selected to succeed Joachim Treusch as the University’s third president by a 12-member search committee (co-chaired by Jacobs) appointed by the Board of Governors, Heinz-Otto Peitgen unexpectedly announced in late November 2013 that he planned to step down at the end of the year. Peitgen received compensation of 800,000 euros as stipulated in his five-year contract. The Board of Governors voted to appoint Katja Windt the University’s new president.

Jacobs is a member of the Board of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), a German foreign-policy think tank; a member of the Board of the Society of Friends of Bayreuth; and a member of the Senate of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Kuratoriums of Acatech – National Academy of Science and Engeneering, Germany.


Jacobs is married to Annette Jacobs and has three children. He lives with his family in Hamburg and Singapore. Along with his younger sister Lavinia, Jacobs is the executor of their father’s estate. Jacobs has five younger siblings.


  • Das Bremische Höfegesetz. Geschichtliche Entwicklung und systematische Darstellung. Frankfurt/M., Bern, New York, Paris, 1992 (= Europäische Hochschulschriften Reihe 2, Rechtswissenschaft. Bd. 1189). ISBN 978-3-631-44375-0
  • „Internationales Kakaoabkommen – Rechtsprobleme im Zusammenhang mit der Auflösung des Ausgleichslagers am Beispiel Deutschlands und Frankreichs“ in Agrarrecht, Heft 11, 27. Jahrgang, Festausgabe zum 70. Geburtstag von Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Karl Kroeschell, Seite 379–383, November 1997
  • Tolley’s “International Succession Laws”, Kapitel über Deutschland, Loseblattsammlung, ongoing, Dezember 2001 bis Dezember 2013
  • Tolley’s “Planning and Administration of Off-Shore and On-Shore Trusts”, Kapitel über Deutschland, Loseblattsammlung, fortlaufend, April 2001 bis Dezember 2013


  1. Deutsche Biographie. "Jacobs, Johann - Deutsche Biographie" (in Deutsch).
  2. Deutsche Biographie. "Jacobs, Johann - Deutsche Biographie" (in Deutsch).
  3. Johann Christian Jacobs (1992), Das bremische Hoefegesetz geschichtliche Entwicklung und systematische Darstellung (in German), retrieved 2021-12-01{{citation}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  4. EuGH 11. Dezember 1997 C-55/96, Glg. 1997, I-7119, EuZW 1998, 274
  5. "/\/ CEWE - simply beautiful photos".
  6. "Andreas Jacobs/Markus Fiechter: «Nehmen Rechte als Aktionär wahr» | HZ" (in Schweizer Hochdeutsch).
  7. "Board of Trustees".

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