Buffett's recent buy Heinz squeezes out 600 employees
One of Warren Buffett's newest acquisitions is putting the squeeze on its workforce.
H.J. Heinz Co. is eliminating 600 jobs across the U.S. and in Canada, including 350 in Pittsburgh, nearly a third of the operation in its hometown, it said Tuesday.
The ketchup maker was sold in June to Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and the Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital for $23.3 billion. The deal was announced in February.
The layoffs were the result of a review of operations, spokesman Michael Mullen said. They're intended to enable faster decision-making, increased accountability and accelerated growth, he said.
Mullen said that as part of the transition to a private company, the Heinz leadership "examined every piece of our business to better position Heinz in a very competitive global market" and that review "resulted in a number of difficult but necessary organizational changes."
Bernardo Hees was named Heinz's new CEO after the sale. He took over from William Johnson, who received a golden parachute of $56 million, in addition to $156.7 million in vested stock and deferred compensation he accrued over his career.
Heinz is offering severance packages and outplacement services to people who lost jobs, Mullen said.
(Slideshow: Berkshire Hathaway's 15 Biggest Stock Holdings)
"We regret the impact this has on Heinz employees and their families," Mullen said.
Mullen said Heinz will remain headquartered in Pittsburgh, where it was founded in 1869. He said that after the reduction the company will employ about 800 people in the Pittsburgh region and 6,000 across North America.