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David Kass
David Kass
Articles (9)  | Author's Website |

The Stellar Kraft Heinz Board of Directors

On July 6, 2015, shares of Kraft Heinz (NASDAQ:KHC) began trading. This company, representing the merger of Kraft Foods Group and H.J. Heinz, is currently valued at about $100 billion at its closing price of $77.31 on July 10. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) owns about 325 million shares, which represents approximately one quarter of the company, and is valued at $25 billion. Kraft Heinz is now Berkshire’s second-largest investment behind only Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) with a current market value of $26 billion. 3G Capital also owns about one quarter of the company.

The board of directors of Kraft Heinz consists of 11 members. Three of the members were selected by Berkshire Hathaway, three by 3G Capital, and the remaining five by Kraft Foods.

Representing Berkshire Hathaway are Warren Buffett (Trades, Portfolio) (age 84), Greg Abel (age 52), and Tracy Britt Cool (age 30). Kraft Heinz is the only publicly traded company that Mr. Buffett is a director, in addition to Berkshire Hathaway where he is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Previously he had been a director of the Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) and the Washington Post Company. He also served on the privately held Heinz board of directors from June 2013 until its merger with Kraft Foods.

Both Greg Abel and Tracy Britt Cool have also served on the Heinz board of directors from June 2013. Mr. Abel has served as chairman, director, chief executive officer and president of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, an electric and natural gas service provider with more than 11.5 million customers worldwide, since 2000. As a result of his managerial experience, he provides the board of directors with strong operational skills. He is considered by many to be one of the two most likely candidates, along with Ajit Jain, to eventually succeed Warren Buffett (Trades, Portfolio) as CEO at Berkshire Hathaway. Ms. Cool has also served on the Heinz board of directors since 2013 and has experience as chairman of several Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries and has served as financial assistant to the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway since 2009.

The three Kraft Heinz board members from 3G Capital are Jorge Paulo Lemann (age 75), Alexandre Behring (age 48), and Marcel Herrmann Telles (age 65) have all served on the Heinz board of directors since June 2013. Mr. Lemann is a founding partner of 3G Capital (2004-present) and a director of Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD) (2004-present). Mr. Behring, who is the chairman of Kraft Heinz board of directors, is also the managing partner of 3G Capital (2004-present) and director and chairman of Burger King Worldwide Holdings (BKW) (October 2010-present). Mr. Telles is a founding partner of 3G Capital (2004-present), a director of Anheuser-Busch InBev (2004-present) and a director of AmBev (2000-present).

The five board members selected by Kraft Foods are: John T. Cahill (age 57), L. Kevin Cox (age 51), Jeanne P. Jackson (age 63), Mackey J. McDonald (age 68) and John C. Pope (age 66). Mr. Cahill is the vice chairman of Kraft Heinz and served as the chairman and chief executive officer of Kraft since December 28, 2014. He was an executive for nine years with PepsiCo, Inc. and currently serves as a director of American Airlines Group and the Colgate-Palmolive Company. Mr. Cox served on the Kraft board since October 2012, has served as Chief Human Resources Officer of American Express Company since April 2005 and was an executive at PepsiCo, Inc. for 16 years. Ms. Jackson has also served on the Kraft board since October 2012 and serves as a director of McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD). She has held senior positions at NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE), Walmart (WMT), Gap Inc. (GAP), Victoria’s Secret, Saks Fifth Avenue, Federated Department Stores, and Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS). Mr. McDonald served on the Kraft board since October 2012 and was chief executive officer at VF Corporation, an apparel manufacturer. Finally, Mr. Pope served on the Kraft board since August 2012 and is chairman of the board of R.R. Donnelly and Sons Co.

Kraft Heinz is the only publicly traded company where both Warren Buffett (Trades, Portfolio) and Jorge Lemann are on its board of directors. Mr. Buffett is considered to be the world’s greatest investor and allocator of capital. Mr. Lemann and his colleagues at 3G Capital are among the world’s best operating managers. Over the past two years, 3G Capital has substantially reduced expenses at Heinz while simultaneously growing its business. Their goal for Kraft Heinz is to cut $1.5 billion in annual costs by the end of 2017 while increasing revenues. With the unique combination of a board of directors composed of top managers from both Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital, along with directors from Kraft, the outlook for Kraft Heinz is extremely bright.

About the author:

David Kass
David I Kass
Tyser Teaching Fellow, Department of Finance
Ph.D., Harvard University

Robert H. Smith School of Business
4412 Van Munching Hall
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-1815
Phone: 301-405-9683
Email: [email protected]

Dr. David Kass has published articles in corporate finance, industrial organization, and health economics. He currently teaches Advanced Financial Management and Business Finance. Prior to joining the faculty of the Smith School in 2004, he held senior positions with the Federal Government (Federal Trade Commission, General Accounting Office, Department of Defense, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis). Dr. Kass has recently appeared on Bloomberg TV, CNBC, Maryland Public Television, Business News Network TV (Canada), and WYPR Radio (Baltimore), and has been quoted on numerous occasions by Bloomberg News, where he has primarily discussed Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway. He has also launched a Smith School “Warren Buffett” blog. Dr. Kass has accompanied MBA students on trips to Omaha for private meetings with Warren Buffett, and Finance Fellows to Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meetings. He is an officer of the Harvard Business School Club of Washington, DC, and is a member of the investment and budget committees of a local nonprofit organization. Dr. Kass received a Smith School “Top 15% Teaching Award” for the 2009-2010 academic year.

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