H.J. Heinz Company and Kraft Foods Group, Inc. announced on March 25 that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement to create The Kraft Heinz Company, forming the third largest food and beverage company in North America with an unparalleled portfolio of iconic brands.
Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by both Heinz and Kraft’s Boards of Directors, Kraft shareholders will own a 49% stake in the combined company, and current Heinz shareholders will own 51% on a fully diluted basis. Kraft shareholders will receive stock in the combined company and a special cash dividend of $16.50 per share. The aggregate special dividend payment of approximately $10 billion is being fully funded by an equity contribution by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital.
The proposed merger creates substantial value for Kraft shareholders. The special cash dividend payment represents 27% of Kraft’s closing price as of March 24, 2015. Also, by continuing to own shares of the new combined company, Kraft shareholders will have the opportunity to participate in the new company’s long-term value creation potential.
The combination of these iconic food companies joins together two portfolios of beloved brands, including Heinz, Kraft, Oscar Mayer, Ore-Ida and Philadelphia. Together the new company will have eight $1+ billion brands and five brands between $500 million and $1 billion. The complementary nature of the two brand portfolios presents substantial opportunity for synergies, which will result in increased investments in marketing and innovation.
When the transaction closes, Alex Behring, Chairman of Heinz and the Managing Partner at 3G Capital, will become the Chairman of The Kraft Heinz Company. John Cahill, Kraft Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, will become Vice Chairman and chair of a newly formed operations and strategy committee of the Board of Directors.
Bernardo Hees, Chief Executive Officer of Heinz, will be appointed Chief Executive Officer of The Kraft Heinz Company. The new executive team for the combined global company will be announced during the transition period, but no later than transaction closing.
The Board of Directors of the combined company will consist of five members appointed by the current Kraft Board, as well as the current Heinz Board, including three members from Berkshire Hathaway and three members from 3G Capital.
The transaction is subject to approval by Kraft shareholders, receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the second half of 2015.
Lazard served as exclusive financial advisor for Heinz, and Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Kirkland and Ellis acted as legal advisors.
Centerview Partners LLC served as exclusive financial advisor for Kraft, and Sullivan & Cromwell acted as legal advisor.