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Minnesota Investor Found Dead

Irwin Jacobs was known in the 1980s for hostile corporate takeovers.

Irwin Jacobs, an investor known for buying and selling companies, and his wife Alexandra were reportedly found dead this week at their home in Minnesota.

Police found their bodies in a bed with a gun in Orono, a city near Lake Minnetonka, according to a Star Tribune report on April 10. The newspaper described their deaths as an “apparent murder-suicide,” citing comments from a longtime business associate and friend of Irwin Jacobs.

Jacobs was known in the 1980s for hostile takeover battles with companies such as Pabst Brewing Co. and leisure equipment maker AMF. That same decade he also acquired a stake in professional football team Minnesota Vikings, according to an Associated Press report in 1985.

The Star Tribune said Jacobs has owned J.R. Watkins Co. for more than 40 years. Last year, private equity firm Swander Pace Capital announced that it had bought the J.R. Watkins personal care and household brand and assets from Watkins. 

Jacobs’s wife had been in a wheelchair for “the last year or so” and showed signs of dementia, Dennis Mathisen, the business associate and friend of Jacobs, told the Star Tribune. In the news report, Mathisen said Jacobs was “distraught over her condition.”

Jacobs became a high-profile investor at a time when junk bonds were becoming a popular way to finance corporate takeovers. A 1985 New York Times article on Drexel Burnham Lambert referred to Jacobs as a big client of the Wall Street firm, which was famous for hostile takeovers and high-yield debt financing.

Drexel, where Michael Milken pioneered the use of junk bonds in buyouts, was a powerhouse before collapsing into bankruptcy in 1990.

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