Heinz to merge with Kraft

A deal backed by Tim Hortons owner 3G Capital and Warren Buffett will create North America's third-largest food company.

The H.J. Heinz Company will merge with Kraft Foods, creating the Kraft Heinz Co., which the companies say will be the third-largest food and beverage company in North America.

Announced this morning, Heinz’s parent companies, Brazilian-owned 3G Capital and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., will acquire Kraft Foods and invest an additional $10 billion into the new combined company. Kraft shareholders will control 49% of the company, plus a $16.50 dividend per share, with 51% owned by Heinz shareholders. The company will be led by Alex Behring, Heinz chairman and 3G’s managing partner, with Kraft CEO John Cahill becoming vice chairman.

Kraft’s brands in Canada include Kraft Dinner, Kraft Peanut Butter, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Nabob, Maxwell House and a profile of cheese products. Heinz’s brands include market-leader Heinz Ketchup, as well as Classico pasta sauces, HP Sauce and Bagel Bites. Altogether, the combined entity will control eight different brands worth over $1 billion, according to the companies.

They also said the new organization will have revenue of $28 billion, and will be able to report savings of $1.5 billion in annual costs by 2017.

Kraft Foods was spun off from Mondelez International in 2012. Heinz, founded in 1869, was purchased by 3G and Berkshire Hathaway in 2013. 3G is also the holding company that facilitated the purchase of Tim Hortons by Burger King last year.

It’s too early to tell if the merger will result in any job losses, something that has become a hallmark of 3G’s acquisitions and mergers. Within a year of 3G purchasing Heinz, 600 jobs were cut across North America, including the closure of the processing plant in Leamington, ON, the company’s second-biggest in Canada. In January, Tim Hortons announced it was laying off 350 employees.

In Canada, creative for Heinz has previously been handled by John St. on a project basis. Kraft has been consolidating its roster of agencies over the last year, which now includes Leo Burnett, Taxi and Union within Canada.

The boards of both companies have approved the deal and are awaiting approval from Kraft shareholders. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2015.

Image courtesy Nagel Photography/Shutterstock