Berkshire Hathaway to Buy H.J. Heinz

Buffett Ups His Bet On Consumer Packaged-Goods Business

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Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital agreed to buy H.J.Heinz Co. in a deal for about $23 billion as the chairman increases his bets on consumer products.

The buyers will pay $72.50 a share, compared with yesterday's closing price of $60.48, according to a statement distributed by Business Wire today. The deal will be financed by cash from Berkshire and affiliates of 3G, plus the rollover of existing debt. The deal is valued at about $28 billion including debt, according to the statement.

Mr. Buffett has been seeking deals after the cash pile at Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire climbed to more than $45 billion. He has previously invested in consumer products through equity investments in Coca-Cola Co. and he helped finance Mars Inc.'s purchase of chewing gum maker Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.

"Heinz has strong, sustainable growth potential based on high quality standards, continuous innovation, excellent management and great tasting products," Mr. Buffett said in the statement.

Heinz shares climbed to $72.95 in early trading at 8:05 a.m. in New York.

JP MorganChase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. have committed debt financing, according to the statement.

-- Bloomberg News

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