3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. (BRK.B), which are due to purchase ketchup giant, H.J. Heinz Company (HNZ), recently announced the appointment of a new chief executive officer (CEO) for the latter after closing of the acquisition.
Heinz agreed to be acquired in mid February by an investment group, led by Warren Buffet’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, and private Brazilian investment firm, 3G Capital, for $28 billion, including debt. Berkshire Hathaway owns leading businesses across a variety of industries, while 3G Capital is a global investment firm holding stakes in many larger companies.
3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway appointed the current CEO of the fast food chain, Burger King Worldwide, Inc (BKW), Bernardo Hees, as the new CEO of Heinz. 3G Capital holds a large equity stake in Burger King. He will assume the new role at Heinz after the takeover transaction closes which is expected either by the end of second quarter or in the third quarter of this calendar year. Thereafter, Hees will become the vice-chairman of Burger King and continue to serve on the latter’s executive committee. He will be replaced by Daniel Schwartz as the CEO of Burger King.
Hees, who has played a pivotal role in growing profits at Burger King, will replace Heinz’s current Chairman, President and CEO, Bill Johnson. Johnson will continue in his capacity until the transaction in complete.
The New York Times reported early last month that Heinz CEO will earn more than $200 million if he is asked to quit. As part of the payment, Johnson could get “golden parachute” compensations, stock and stock options awards and other benefits.
Johnson has pioneered Heinz for 15 years and played a pivotal role in this landmark transaction for the food industry. Over the years, he has brought Heinz to a strong position where it is consistently delivering solid organic growth, showing continued strong improvement in emerging markets, making robust marketing investments, continuously innovating and saving costs aggressively.
As per the terms of the pending merger, Heinz’s shareholders will receive $72.50 per share, a 19% premium to its all-time high share price. Following the acquisition, Heinz will become a private company.
Heinz has scheduled a special shareholder meeting in New York on Apr 30 to vote on its pending sale. In addition to shareholders’ approval at the meeting, the transaction remains subject to some other customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Antitrust clearance has been granted in most countries.
Heinz carries a Zacks Rank #3. Another food company that has been doing well consistently is ConAgra Foods, Inc (CAG) – Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
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