Baked Beans Firm Heinz Sold For $28bn
The baked beans and ketchup maker HJ Heinz has agreed to a takeover worth $28bn (£18bn) in a move that could potentially affect thousands of UK workers.
An investment consortium, which includes billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is behind the deal.
The company said Heinz shareholders would receive $72.50 (£47) in cash for each share of common stock they own under the plans.
The takeover's value includes the assumption of Heinz's debt and the per share price represents a 20% premium to Heinz's closing price of $60.48 (£39) on Wednesday.
Berkshire Hathaway, which is Buffett's investment vehicle, and Burger King-owner 3G Capital say Heinz will remain headquartered in Pittsburgh under their plans.
Berkshire Hathaway is putting up to $13bn in cash toward the joint buyout.
"It's our kind of company," Mr Buffett said in an interview on CNBC, noting its signature ketchup had been around for more than a century. "I've sampled it many times," he said.
Mr Buffett also confirmed that Berkshire will still have room to make further acquisitions, noting that the firm's businesses continually replenish its cash supply.
He said: "Anytime we see a deal is attractive and it's our kind of business and we've got the money, I'm ready to go."
Given the saturated North American market, Heinz has increasingly looked to emerging markets for growth and the buyout should aid the pace of investment.
In its last quarter, the company said emerging markets made up 23% of sales.
Union officials representing thousands of UK workers employed by Heinz at five sites are seeking urgent talks for reassurance about their jobs.
Unite national officer Jennie Formby said: "Whilst we recognise the commitment given by Berkshire Hathaway that it will be business as usual following the surprise change of ownership announced today, the 3,000 Unite members who work for Heinz in the UK will want more detailed assurances that their jobs and sites will remain secure.
"Unite will be seeking an early meeting with senior management to allow us to explore in greater detail what impact, if any, this acquisition will have for the UK business."