Corrected: Kraft Heinz banks on Anheuser-Busch exec in strategy shift
(Corrects to show that Berkshire and 3G together own close to 50 percent of Kraft Heinz, not more than 50 percent) (Reuters) - Kraft Heinz Co said on Monday it would replace Chief Executive Officer Bernardo Hees with Anheuser-Busch InBev marketing chief Miguel Patricio, as one of the world's largest packaged food companies looks to reinvigorate its brands after years of cutting costs dented their value. In February, the Heinz ketchup maker cut its dividend payouts, wrote down the value its marquee Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands and other assets by more than $15 billion and disclosed a regulatory probe into its accounting practices
(Corrects to show that Berkshire and 3G together own close to 50 percent of Kraft Heinz, not more than 50 percent)
(Reuters) - Kraft Heinz Co said on Monday it would replace Chief Executive Officer Bernardo Hees with Anheuser-Busch InBev marketing chief Miguel Patricio, as one of the world's largest packaged food companies looks to reinvigorate its brands after years of cutting costs dented their value.
In February, the Heinz ketchup maker cut its dividend payouts, wrote down the value its marquee Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands and other assets by more than $15 billion and disclosed a regulatory probe into its accounting practices.
The broad sector has struggled with rising transportation and commodity costs along with a shift in consumer preferences to more niche health-focused brands.
The Velveeta cheese maker's second biggest shareholder 3G Capital has pushed the company to rein in expenses to tackle higher costs and sluggish growth, a strategy it has used effectively at Heinz and Anheuser-Busch, another company in which it has a stake.
3G and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc together own close to 50 percent of Kraft Heinz.
"The change at the top of Kraft Heinz is a positive development," said Roosevelt Investment Group fund manager Jason Benowitz, which previously held a stake in Kraft Heinz.
"It shows that management and the board understand the serious nature of the challenges facing the company. Kraft Heinz ... cannot further cost cut its way to prosperity."
The company's shares rose about 1 percent in early trading, after more than more than halving in value since H.J. Heinz and Kraft Foods, two of the United States' biggest food and beverage producers, merged in 2015.
Kraft Heinz has been the worst performing stock on the S&P 500 Packaged Foods and Meats index over the last year, falling some 43 percent.
Patricio takes over the top job in July after spending two decades at Anheuser-Busch, most recently as the Budweiser brewer's global chief marketing officer.
Prior to AB InBev, Patricio worked at a range of major consumer goods producers including Philip Morris, Coca-Cola Co and Johnson & Johnson.
"By appointing Mr. Patricio as the new CEO, it appears that Kraft Heinz is doubling down on its efforts to reinvigorate the top line," Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard wrote in a note.
His prior experience as the president of Asia Pacific of Anheuser-Busch InBev might enable him to explore more growth opportunities in emerging markets at Kraft Heinz, she said.
(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.