Had events taken a different turn, Jean-François van Boxmeer might have ended up as head of Unilever. The Anglo-Dutch multinational turned down the economics graduate for his first job. Heineken, however, hired him. That was 33 years ago and for the past 12, Van Boxmeer has been CEO of the family-controlled Dutch brewer, arguably best-known for its 1970s and 1980s advertising tagline: "Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach." Van Boxmeer said: "In those days, companies like Heineken and Unilever were aspirational; they were very international and that’s what attracted me." Building on the heritage of Freddy Heineken, the legendary magnate who turned a Dutch brewer into a European one, Van Boxmeer has taken the company into parts of the world it had previously never reached. The Belgian has spent more than $30bn on 65 acquisitions since taking over in 2005, which have expanded the company’s brewing operations from 39 countries to 70, and include China, Mexico, Brazil, ...

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