Berkshire Hathaway becomes majority shareholder in H J Heinz Co

Berkshire Hathaway Inc has bought an additional 5.4 per cent stake in H.J. Heinz Co, making it the majority shareholder in the world's largest ketchup company.

Berkshire Hathaway yesterday exercised a warrant to buy about 46.2 million Heinz shares for nearly $462,000, H J Heinz Co said in a regulatory filing today.

With this purchase Berkshire has now become the largest shareholder in H J Heinz Co with 52.5-per cent stake.

In early 2013, billionaire investor Warren Buffett teamed up with Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital to acquire global US foods giant HJ Heinz Co, for $23 billion, plus $5-bn debt, the biggest acquisition ever in the food industry. (See: Warren Buffett, 3G Capital to buy HJ Heinz Co for $23 bn)

Under the deal, Berkshire and 3G would hold an equal 50-per cent equity stake in Heinz, but 3G, which also owns Burger King, would operate the business.

Founded 144 years ago by Henry Heinz, one of the company's first products was tomato ketchup. Since then the company has grown to become the most famous global US-food company.

Apart from its ketchup, which sells 650 million bottles every year, Heinz also markets sauces, meals, snacks, and infant nutrition. Among them are 15 well known brands that are famous in all continents and generate around 70-per cent of its $12-billion global sales.

Some of its popular brands are Heinz Ketchup, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, Classico pasta sauce, Pudliszki sauces, Heinz Classic salad cream, ABC soy sauce, Bagel Bites snack, Delimex frozen Mexican snacks, TGI Friday's frozen snacks, Tater Tots hash browns, Weight Watchers Smart Ones frozen dinners, and infant / nutrition brands like Plasmon, Wattie's tomato soup and Nature infant formulas.

In India, Heinz acquired the former foods division of Glaxo India, which included brands like Complan, Glucon D, Glucon C, Sampriti Ghee, and Nycil products.