Billionaire Lemann Is Stepping Down From Kraft Heinz’s Board
(Bloomberg) -- Jorge Paulo Lemann is leaving the board of Kraft Heinz Co., the giant consumer company he helped put together with Warren Buffett that’s since lost half its value.
Lemann “has decided to reduce his travel commitments and will not seek re-election”, the company said in a regulatory filing. The decision “is not the result of any disagreement with management or the board.”
As co-founder of private equity firm 3G Capital Partners, Lemann, 81, has orchestrated some of the biggest consumer deals in history. He has interests in Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s largest brewer, and Restaurant Brands International, the company behind Burger King, and is worth $22 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him the richest person in Brazil.
In 2015, he teamed up with Buffett and created Kraft Heinz through a merger.
The company’s shares have dropped more than 50%, as 3G’s signature management style of cutting costs and seeking debt-driven mergers failed. The company also was hit with a $15 billion writedown in 2019 that sparked a change in strategy and leadership. Lemann conceded “the big dream” he had for Kraft Heinz didn’t work out.
“It’s not possible anymore to build something in the food business like we did in the beer business. We tried, it didn’t work and we’ll fix it,” he promised in an event in 2019, after appointing AB Inbev’s longtime executive Miguel Patricio as chief executive officer.
The company has rallied recently, partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as people worldwide stocked their pantries with packaged food. The stock is up more than 50% since last March.
3G Capital, which holds a 20% stake in the firm, will appoint Lemann’s replacement, according to the filing. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has about 27%.
The Swiss-Brazilian businessman has six children, with some also serving at the board of some of his companies, like Brazilian retailer Lojas Americanas SA.
“The company thanks Jorge Paulo Lemann for his many invaluable contributions to Kraft Heinz, which will have a lasting impact for years to come,“ said Michael Mullen, Kraft Heinz’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, in a messaged statement.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.