Heinz shuffles management in ‘meritocracy’

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Posted: Friday, June 21, 2013 12:00 am

H.J. Heinz Co. said 11 executives are leaving as the world’s largest ketchup maker shakes up management less than a month after being acquired by Jorge Paulo Lemann’s 3G Capital and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Dave Woodward, the chief executive officer of Europe, General Counsel Ted Bobby and North America CEO David Moran are among those departing, the Pittsburgh-based company said Thursday.

Matt Hill was promoted to president of Europe from a post overseeing the U.K. and Ireland. Dan Shaw was named general counsel. Brendan Foley was promoted to zone president of Heinz North America from president of U.S. consumer products.

The transition “demonstrates the power and potential of meritocracy at work here,” Heinz CEO Bernardo Hees said in a statement. “The company is focused on rewarding and promoting the best and brightest talent.”

Buffett, 82, is betting on 3G to wring profit from Heinz after the $28.8 billion takeover, which included debt financing. He said last month that he agreed to the acquisition because of his confidence that Lemann’s firm would run the business well.

“They are extraordinary managers,” Buffett said May 4 at Berkshire’s annual meeting in Omaha, where the company is based. “We stretched a little because of that.”

Berkshire and 3G each contributed about $4 billion to get half the equity in Heinz’s new holding company. In addition, Buffett committed $8 billion for preferred shares that pay a 9 percent dividend and give him the option to buy an additional 5 percent stake for a “nominal sum.”

3G had already moved to shake up management at Heinz, naming Hees as CEO and Paulo Basilio as chief financial officer. The managers replaced William Johnson, Heinz’s CEO of 15 years, and former CFO Art Winkleblack. Hees was previously CEO at Burger King Worldwide Inc., which 3G bought in October 2010.

The Omaha World-Herald Co. is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

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