Burger King CEO To Take Command At Heinz

Burger King CEO To Take Command At Heinz

The Burger King Worldwide Inc (NYSE:BKW) chief executive officer Bernardo Hees has been given a new challenge — to lead H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ).

The Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital said Hees will take charge of the Pittsburgh-based Ketchup maker when its acquisition is completed, perhaps on July 1. Bernardo Hees is a partner at 3G Capital, which owns a stake in Burger King Worldwide Inc (NYSE:BKW), and now H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ).

Burger King CEO To Take Command At Heinz

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Warren Buffett-led Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) and 3G Capital joined hands a couple of months ago to acquire H.J. Heinz Co. in a $23.3 billion deal. When Hees joins H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ), Burger King Worldwide Inc (NYSE:BKW) CFO Daniel Schwartz will become the chief executive officer of Burger King. Daniel Schwartz is also a partner at 3G Capital.

The H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) acquisition is expected to close in the second or third quarter. Most of the countries have already granted anti-trust clearances. Heinz shareholders will be voting on the deal on April 30. However, 43-year old Hees will also look after Burger King Worldwide Inc (NYSE:BKW) as vice chairman, and will remain a member of its executive committee.

The Brazilian private equity firm acquired Burger King Worldwide Inc (NYSE:BKW) for $4.1 billion in 2010, and appointed Bernardo Hees as its chief executive officer. Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman is also a large shareholder of the fast food chain, as he owns about 29 percent of Burger King Worldwide Inc (NYSE:BKW) through Justice Holdings Ltd. Ackman thinks that Burger King shares have a valuation of $41 per share, over two times higher than its current share prices.

Bernardo Hees played a key role in reviving Burger King. He initiated cost-cutting measures, revamped menu and boosted marketing campaign. Just a few days after 3G Capital acquired Burger King, it began to replace the top executives. In December 2010, Burger King fired 413 executives within a day. According to SEC filings, the company had laid off 12 percent of its total workforce between December 2010 and December 2011.

H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) said that Bernardo has an unparalleled track record of solid performance. He has the right leadership skills, experience and understanding of the food industry. Hees increased the Burger King Worldwide Inc EBITDA by 44 percent within two and a half years. After Burger King Worldwide Inc (NYSE:BKW) went public last May, its shares have gained 23 percent to $18.48.

However, neither Warren Buffett nor 3G Capital has decided the role of the current H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) chairman and CEO William Johnson after the acquisition. H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) said in a statement that Berkshire Hathaway Inc and 3G Capital plan to discuss with William Johnson about his future role.

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