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Brazil Group in $23bn Heinz buyout
February 15, 2013, 12:43 pm

H.J. Heinz Co. CEO William Johnson (l) and 3G Capital Managing Partner, Alex Behring, speak at a news conference. [AP]

H.J. Heinz Co. CEO William Johnson (l) and 3G Capital Managing Partner, Alex Behring, speak at a news conference. [AP]

Warren Buffett and Brazilian financier Jorge Paulo Lemann have partnered to buy ketchup maker H. J. Heinz Co for $23.2 billion.

The buyout is being tipped as the food industry’s biggest ever deal.

Reflecting the rise of Brazil’s economic clout, the success of 3G Capital has made the company a major player in global mergers.

The Brazilian Group, 3G Capital, also acquired fast-food retailer Burger King Worldwide Inc in 2010 for around $3.3 billion.

Heinz valued the transaction at $28 billion, including debt assumption.

3G Capital seems to be following in the footsteps of Brazilian companies like Witness Vale and JBS, with a desire for acquiring iconic American business brands.

According to Euromonitor International, Heinz has a 26 per cent share of the global ketchup market and a a 59 per cent share in the American market.

3G Capital, which teamed up with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc for the deal, is a Brazilian group founded by a banker-turned-beer magnate.

The group’s founder, billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann is the world’s 69th richest billionaire in the Forbes list, with a fortune of $12 billion.

According to Reuters, Heinz’s real growth engine has been the Asia-Pacific region, where sales increased nearly 11 per cent in the last fiscal year, in part on demand for sauces and infant foods in China.

“The offer was such that I simply felt compelled to take it to my board,” William Johnson, Heinz CEO said at a news conference  on Thursday after the deal was announced.

With inputs from Agencies

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