HJ Heinz buying Kraft Foods; Move makes for $28B food giant

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, March 25, 2015

NEW YORK — H.J. Heinz Co. is buying Kraft Foods, creating one of the largest food and beverage companies in the world with annual revenue of about $28 billion.

The Kraft Heinz Co. will own Kraft, Heinz, Oscar Mayer, Ore-Ida and large stable of other brands. Eight of those brands have annual sales of $1 billion or more and five others log sales between $500 million and $1 billon every year.

The deal to bring together the two companies, each more than a century old, was engineered by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital. The two will invest another $10 billion in the new company.

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The merger comes as well-established food producers struggle to keep up with shifting appetites. Consumers are seeking more unprocessed foods, and have migrated away from one-time staples of the American diet.

Buffett, however, said both companies have a strong base. He has been investing steadily on both of them for quite a while.

“I think the tastes Kraft and Heinz appeal to are pretty enduring,” Buffett said in a telephone call to the business news channel CNBC.

The massive deal materialized rapidly, Buffett said, having been in the works for only about four weeks or so.

There are plans for at least four new products this year, Buffett said, and that there is a lot of freedom to sell the company’s products outside of the U.S. and Canada.

Since splitting from Mondelez International Inc. in 2012, Kraft’s business has been primarily concentrated in the U.S. and Canada. All of its manufacturing capacity is in those two countries, according to the company’s annual report.

Kraft Heinz will maintain headquarters in Pittsburgh, where Heinz is based, and also in the Chicago area, where Kraft resides.

Shares of Kraft jumped nearly 34 percent Wednesday before the opening bell.

Kraft shareholders will receive stock in the combined company and a special cash dividend of approximately $10 billion, or $16.50 per share. Each share of Kraft will be converted into one share of Kraft Heinz.