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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Buffett Brand Has More Beans Than Heinz

Alice Schroeder in the FT:


By now the “Buffett deal” has become familiar: an investment by Berkshire Hathaway that includes high-yield preferred stock and very little risk. Berkshire’s purchase last week of Heinz fits the classic pattern. Before yawning, “he’s pulled off another one”, let us pause to consider some new shading that Heinz brings to the portrait of Warren Buffett as dealmaker and capitalist. Also worth noting are subtle signals that suggest where the US economy is heading. Mr Buffett has a history of being right about such things, so let us pay attention.

Through the deal, Berkshire and its partner 3G Capital, the Brazilian private equity firm, will each take half of Heinz in exchange for $4bn of equity. For another $8bn, Berkshire acquires redeemable preferred stock yielding 9 per cent and warrants (options that give investors the right to buy shares at an agreed price at some point in the future). The $72.50 per share cash transaction includes $12bn of new and assumed debt, valuing Heinz at $28bn.


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