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Burger King CEO Bernardo Hees Named To Head Heinz After Deal Closure

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. (BRKA, BRKB) and New York-based investment fund 3G Capital, which are currently in the process of taking Ketchup king H.J. Heinz Co. (HNZ: Quote) private, announced Thursday that Bernardo Hees will become chief executive officer of Heinz upon completion of the acquisition.

Bernardo Hees is currently the CEO of fast food restaurant operator Burger King Worldwide Holdings, Inc. (BKW: Quote) since September 10, 2010. Burger King was taken private by 3G Capital in October 2010. The company got listed again on the NYSE on June 20, 2012 through an unusual deal. Hees has been a director of Burger King and its predecessor companies since November 2010.

Separately, Burger King announced that Hees will be appointed to the role of vice chairman of the board of directors at Burger King, and continue to serve on its executive committee after he takes over as CEO of Heinz.

"His combination of experience, leadership skills and broad understanding of the food industry make him the ideal leader to drive the next chapter in Heinz's storied history. Bernardo will work closely with Heinz's current Chairman, President and CEO, Bill Johnson, and the management team to ensure a smooth transition over the coming months," Alex Behring, Managing Partner at 3G Capital said in a statement.

Prior to joining Burger King, Hees served from 2005 to 2010 as CEO of America Latina Logistica (ALL), Latin America's largest railroad and logistics company. He also serves as a partner of 3G Capital and a member of the executive board of ALL. He began his career at ALL in 1998 as a logistics analyst and held several positions in sales, operations and finance at ALL.

Meanwhile, Johnson will remain as chairman, president and CEO of Heinz until the transaction is completed, which is expected by the third calender quarter of 2013. 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway said they expect to discuss with Johnson on his interest in a continuing role with the company.

Johnson assumed the position of President and CEO in April 1998, and was then named chairman, president and CEO in September 2000. He joined Heinz in 1982 as General Manager of new businesses for Heinz USA, and has had a 30-year career at Heinz.

Heinz agreed in mid-February to be taken private by an investment consortium comprised of Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital for $72.50 per share in cash in a deal valued at about $28 billion, including assumed outstanding debt. The deal is deemed as the largest ever in the food industry.

The deal closure is still subject to approval by Heinz shareholders, receipt of certain regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

Meanwhile, Heinz has already received antitrust clearance in the U.S., Brazil, India, South Korea, Japan and Israel, while it is awaiting antitrust clearance in China, the European Union, Mexico, South Africa, Russia, and Ukraine. Heinz has also filed for other regulatory approvals in New Zealand, Ireland and Russia.

In Thursday's regular trading session, HNZ is currently trading at $72.31, up $0.01 or 0.01% on a volume of 0.93 million shares, and BKW is trading at $19.39, up $0.93 or 5.04% on a volume of 1.62 million shares.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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