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Kraft-Heinz merger forms world's fifth-largest food-beverage company

By Doug G. Ware
Kraft-Heinz merger forms world's fifth-largest food-beverage company
A merger between Kraft Foods and the H.J. Heinz Co. closed at the end of business Thursday, officials said, forming the world's fifth-largest food and beverage company -- and the third-largest in North America. Photo: The Kraft Heinz Co.

PITTSBURGH, July 2 (UPI) -- A billion dollar merger between Kraft Foods and the H.J. Heinz Co. was officially completed Thursday -- forming the world's fifth-largest food and beverage company, company officials said.

The companies announced the merger in March, which combines the two renowned food companies and meshes a portfolio of dozens of already iconic products -- such as Heinz ketchup, Jell-O and Kool Aid. The companies issued a joint statement confirming that the collaboration was finalized Thursday.

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"The complementary nature of the two brand portfolios presents substantial opportunity for synergies, which will result in increased investments in marketing and innovation," the statement said. "This historic transaction unites two powerful businesses and iconic brands, and provides a platform for leadership in the food industry both domestically and internationally."

The merger was approved by Kraft shareholders on Wednesday and was officially recorded in the books as complete at the close of the market Thursday -- just in time before Wall Street begins its Fourth of July holiday.

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In addition to becoming the world's fifth-largest manufacturer or its kind, the new entity, formally called the Kraft Heinz Co., also becomes the third-largest food and beverage company in North America -- trailing only Pepsico and Nestle in revenue.

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The combined company represents an estimated annual revenue of $28 billion, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Thursday.

Kraft shares will no longer trade on the Nasdaq, the Post-Gazette's report said. When the markets reopen Monday, shares of Kraft Heinz will begin trading under the symbol KHC.

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Heinz CEO Bernardo Hees will assume the same role in the new company. The company announced its senior leadership team last week.

Shareholders own 51 percent of the new company and the other 49 percent is owned by a conglomeration of Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway, which purchased part of Heinz in 2013, and Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital.

Heinz was founded in 1869 and Kraft in 1903.

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"The Kraft Heinz Company remains committed to its hometowns with co-headquarters in Pittsburgh and the Chicago area," the company stated Thursday. "The Heinz brand and business will remain headquartered in Pittsburgh and the Kraft brand and business will remain headquartered in the Chicago area."

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