NEW YORK, N.Y. – Ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co. began a new chapter on Friday.
The company, which also makes baked beans, vinegar and Classico pasta sauce, said that it completed its acquisition by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital, the Brazilian investment firm that also owns Burger King.
With the completion of the deal, 3G is shifting one of its partners from the helm of Burger King to head Heinz. Bernardo Hees, 43, is taking the reins from William Johnson, who was the seventh CEO of the 144-year-old company for the past 15 years.
Johnson walks away with a golden parachute of $56 million, in addition to the $156.7 million in vested stock and deferred compensation he accrued over his career.
Back in Miami, 3G is crowning another one of its partners to head Burger King. Daniel Schwartz, 32, had been serving as chief operating officer of the fast-food chain known for its Whopper sandwich.
3G is known for its aggressive cost-cutting at the companies it takes over, suggesting Heinz could be in store for big changes. At Burger King, for example, Hees did away with executive offices at the corporate headquarters in favour of open spaces. He sat at a desk right outside the elevators on the seventh floor, in front of big board that was updated with daily sales reports from around the world.
Hees also oversaw the revamping of the chain’s menu to make it more like that of its more successful rival, McDonald’s Corp. The moves laid the groundwork for 3G taking Burger King public again last spring, a move that helped the firm more than recoup its investment based on the chain’s opening share price.
3G, which still owns a majority stake in Burger King, has stressed that it remains committed to the chain’s overhaul and growth.
In announcing the Heinz deal earlier this year, Berkshire had said that it would act as a financing partner while 3G would run the company. In addition to Hees’ appointment, 3G partner Paul Basilio was named chief financial officer of Heinz.
Shares of Heinz will stop trading after the stock market closes Friday.