Berkshire, Lemann’s 3G Name Burger King’s Hees as Heinz CEOZachary Tracer and Noah Buhayar
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Jorge Paulo Lemann’s 3G Capital said Bernardo Hees will become chief executive officer of HJ Heinz Co., the ketchup maker being bought by the billionaire investors.
Hees, 43, has been CEO of Burger King Worldwide Inc. since 2010, the companies said today in a statement. He is also a partner of 3G Capital.
Berkshire and 3G reached a deal in February to buy Heinz for about $23 billion, ending the independence of the Pittsburgh-based maker of condiments and Ore-Ida potato snacks. 3G acquired Burger King in 2010 and took the fast-food chain public last year.
“Bernardo is a proven executive with an unparalleled track record of delivering results,” Alex Behring, managing partner at 3G Capital, said in the statement. “His combination of experience, leadership skills and broad understanding of the food industry make him the ideal leader to drive the next chapter in Heinz’s storied history.”
Bill Johnson, 64, who has led Heinz since 1998, will remain chairman and CEO until the deal is completed, according to the statement. 3G and Berkshire said they expected to discuss with Johnson his interest in a “continuing role” with the ketchup maker after the deal is completed.
Daniel Schwartz will take over as CEO of Burger King, the Miami-based fast-food company said today in a separate statement. He was previously chief financial officer.
Hees will remain CEO of Burger King until the completion of the Heinz deal or July 1, whichever comes first, according to the statement. He will then become vice chairman of the board of directors and remain on the executive committee, Burger King said.
Burger King climbed 3.3 percent to $19.06 at 9:40 a.m. in New York. The company has advanced 31 percent since its shares began trading again in June, compared with the gain of about 17 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
Buffett, 82, the second-richest man in the U.S., has bet on consumer products with stock investments in Coca-Cola Co. His Omaha, Nebraska-based company also helped finance Mars Inc.’s purchase of chewing gum maker Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. in 2008 and has units including See’s Candies and Dairy Queen.
Buffett admired 3G’s record with Burger King and expected Lemann’s firm to oversee the operations of Heinz, he told CNBC in February. He called Lemann, Brazil’s wealthiest man, a “long-time friend” and an “extraordinary manager” in a letter to shareholders last month.
Berkshire will invest about $12 billion to get half of the common equity in Heinz’s new holding company and preferred shares that pay a 9 percent dividend, Buffett wrote. His firm also gets warrants permitting it to buy 5 percent of the holding company for a “nominal sum.”