Heinz CEO Bill Johnson discussed the company’s agreementto be acquired by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) and 3G Capital. Johnson stated, “I just think Warren Buffett and the 3G Capital people saw an opportunity to acquire a wonderful brand and take it to levels that maybe we couldn’t have taken it to on our own.” He went on to say, “we are still penetrating less than two or three billion people so there’s only another three and a half billion people to go.” Excerpts and the video can be found below.
On whether the H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) buyout is the sign of a new era given the recent acquisitions:
“You know I don’t know that that’s true necessarily. Again, I think in our case it’s the highest price ever paid for a food business in the global food industry. It’s at an all-time high at $28 billion. It is a terrific deal. So in our case it’s a really enhancing deal for our shareholders. Some of the other deals that have been done are businesses that are more troubled or have had more difficult conditions in which to operate. Again, I just think Mr. Buffett and the 3G Capital people saw an opportunity to acquire a wonderful brand and take it to levels that maybe we couldn’t have taken it to on our own.”
On food being a strong investment despite the economy:
“Well I certainly think he’s astute and I think it’s the great iconic stature of our brand and Mr. Buffett and 3G Capital like great brands and this brand has been around for 144 years. It continues to grow in stature and in equity we continue to penetrate new markets. I think the view is we are still penetrating less than two or three billion people so there’s only another three and a half billion people to go. So I think from that standpoint you can’t go wrong with great brands. It’s just been proven time and time again in history and Mr. Buffett and 3G Capital are people who are astute enough to recognize that and I think saw a real opportunity.”
On whether environment economically propelled this deal:
“Well I think in our case it’s a little different I mean we’re being acquired from a position of great strength. We’ve had a great consecutive run of high excellent performance and we’ve also traded at a high stock price so I think in our case it was just the opportunity when 3G approached Mr. Buffett about getting together and acquiring what is in my view one of the two or three great brands in the world, certainly one of the leading brands in the United States and in the UK and in the rest of the world. I think the opportunity just matched the time and matched the lending conditions available and I just think they thought it was an opportune time to go forward.”