PITTSBURGH and NORTHFIELD, Ill. — H.J. Heinz Co. and Kraft Foods Group Inc. plan to merge, creating the world’s fifth-largest food and beverage company, with annual revenue of $28 billion.
Heinz and Kraft said Wednesday that the combined company will be called The Kraft Heinz Co. and be co-headquartered in Pittsburgh and the Chicago area. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital, which together acquired Heinz in 2013, will invest $10 billion to fund a special dividend to be paid to Kraft shareholders.
Kraft shareholders are to receive a cash dividend of $16.50 per share and stock representing 49% of the new company. Heinz shareholders will own 51% of the new company, the companies said in a statement. The stake owned by Berkshire and 3G will remain privately held, while the rest of the company’s stock will be publicly traded on the Nasdaq.
The deal will create the third-largest food and beverage company in North America and unite iconic brands such as Kraft, Heinz, Oscar Mayer, Jell-O, Philadelphia and Maxwell House. Eight of the new company’s brands have annual sales of at least $1 billion, and five brand between $500 million and $1 billion. Heinz and Kraft estimated they could find savings of $1.7 billion annually by the end of 2017 through cost reductions and efficiencies.
“This is my kind of transaction, uniting two world-class organizations and delivering shareholder value,” said Buffett, Berkshire’s chief executive officer.
3G has been acquiring food brands, including Burger King, which it bought in 2010. Burger King last year acquired Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons Inc. Kraft, the product of a 2012 split that created Mondelez International Inc., primarily sells in the United States, while Heinz is stronger internationally.
“By bringing together these two iconic companies through this transaction, we are creating a strong platform for both U.S. and international growth,” Alex Behring, chairman of Heinz and managing partner at 3G Capital, said in the statement. “Our combined brands and businesses mean increased scale and relevance both in the U.S. and internationally.”
Plans call for Behring to become chairman of Kraft Heinz. John Cahill, Kraft’s chairman and CEO, will be vice chairman, and Heinz CEO Bernardo Hees will be the new firm’s chief executive. The board of the combined company will consist of five members appointed by the current Kraft board, as well as the current Heinz board, including three members from Berkshire Hathaway and three members from 3G Capital.
“Together we will have some of the most respected, recognized and storied brands in the global food industry, and together we will create an even brighter future,” stated Cahill. “This combination offers significant cash value to our shareholders and the opportunity to be investors in a company very well positioned for growth, especially outside the United States, as we bring Kraft’s iconic brands to international markets. We look forward to uniting with Heinz in what will be an exciting new chapter ahead.”
The transaction is expected to close in the second half of the year, pending approval by Kraft shareholders, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.
“We are thrilled about the unique opportunities this merger will create for our consumers worldwide, as well as our employees and business partners,” Hees commented. “Together, Heinz and Kraft will be able to achieve rapid expansion while delivering the quality, brands and products that our consumers love.”