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Bernardo Hees, CEO of Miami-based Burger King Worldwide, has been tapped to become chief executive of H.J. Heinz Co., once the acquisition of the Pittsburgh ketchup maker closes in the next few months.
The announcement was made by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital, the two major players acquiring Heinz and taking the company private. Some industry observers speculate that Hees’ appointment may signal the first of many changes planned by Heinz’s new owners.
At Burger King, Hees has been credited with cutting costs, mixing up the fast-food chain's management team and menu, and focusing on franchises, among others.
A partner in 3G Capital, Hees was CEO of America Latina Logistica (ALL), Latin America's largest railroad and logistics company, prior to his tenure at Burger King.
Bill Johnson will remain as chairman, president and CEO of Heinz until the transaction is complete. 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway are expected to discuss with Johnson his interest in a continuing role with the company following the shareholder meeting on April 30.
Under Johnson’s leadership, Heinz has successfully reshaped its business to focus on the core brands, categories and geographies where it has leading market positions and the capabilities to drive consistent, profitable growth.