Billionaire Warren Buffet dipped into the ketchup business yesterday, buying H.J Heinz Co. for a cool $23.3 billion. Include Buffet’s assumed debt and the deal’s value soars to $28 billion making it the richest deal in food industry history. We hope the new owners can mustard the strength needed to withdraw all that cash!
Berkshire Hathaway, Buffet’s investment group, teamed up with the New York-based firm 3G Capital in the Heinz takeover. According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Berkshire is putting up $12.12 billion for half of the equity in Heinz as well as $8 billion of preferred shares. 3G, best known for its role in the creation of Anheuser-Busch InBev, will run Heinz while Berkshire acts as a financing partner. Undoubtedly a deal like this will force other investment firms to play ketchup.
Buffet’s deal should accelerate Heinz’ global expansion. At the moment, Heinz products are on grocery shelves in over 200 countries, including Indonesia, Brazil and India. About two-thirds of the Pittsburg-based company’s revenue already come from outside the United States, a proportion that’s bound to rise after the investment consortium’s deal closes in the third quarter. But don’t worry, Heinz CEO William Johnson stressed that the company will maintain Pittsburg as its global headquarters since pulling out of the city now would be pretty weak sauce. Sauce. Like tomato sauce. Tomatoes are the primary ingredient in ketchup. Aw, forget it…
Reports of the acquisition have sent Heinz shares soaring: on Thursday the company’s stock price closed at $72.50, an increase of about 20 percent.