Kraft Heinz elevates 29-yr-od David Knopf to CFO

09 Sep 2017


Kraft Heinz, the $100-billion packaged foods maker, is tapping 29-year-old Princeton graduate and former 3G Capital partner David Knopf as chief financial officer, among other leadership changes announced on Friday.

Knopf is currently the vice president and category head of Kraft Heinz's Planters nuts business, as well as a partner at Jorge Lemann's 3G Capital, which owns 23.9 per cent of Kraft-Heinz - second only to Berkshire Hathaway's 27.7 per cent.

Knopf previously worked at Goldman Sachs after graduating from Princeton in 2010. He joined 3G Capital in 2013 and worked there for two years before starting at Kraft Heinz in July 2015, when Kraft Foods merged with H J Heinz Co.

Knopf will also will serve as executive vice president. He will start in October, replacing current CFO Paulo Basilio (42), who will be moved up to zone president of the company's US business.

These changes at the top come as Kraft Heinz continues to try to grow its top-line sales, in addition to cutting costs and increasing profits, even as it's widely expected to pursue a major acquisition.

In Basilio's new role, he'll be "responsible for all facets of our US business", the company said in a release on Friday.

Both Kraft Heinz and 3G have a reputation for promoting young executives. According to the Chicago Tribune, Kraft Heinz, co-headquartered in Chicago and Pittsburgh, is known for being a place where ambition and results are valued over experience.

Business Insider points out that Restaurant Brands International, 3G's second-biggest investment, is helmed by 37-year-old Daniel Schwartz, who was just 32 when he became CEO of Burger King. When the fast food chain merged with its Canadian neighbour Tim Hortons, he became chief executive of the parent company.

Kraft Heinz confirmed that Knopf will be the youngest high-ranking executive at the company. Knopf made Forbes' 30-under-30 list this year for his role in the $11-billion Burger King-Tim Hortons merger and Heinz's merger with Kraft.

Basilio joined Heinz as CFO in June 2013, the release said. George Zoghbi, currently chief operating officer of the US business, will remain a full-time employee of Kraft Heinz as a strategic adviser. He previously held the same position for Kraft Foods and was considered instrumental in providing continuity after the merger.

Kraft Heinz reported no changes in compensation Friday for Basilio or Knopf.

Last year, Basilio made about $2.7 million in total compensation, according to the company's last proxy statement. Zoghbi made about $12.1 million in total compensation last year, which included a $7 million bonus, according to the filing.

Knopf's compensation was not disclosed.

Earlier this year, Kraft Heinz attempted to acquire consumer goods conglomerate Unilever for $143 billion, but was rejected in what Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett has called a "misunderstanding".

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