Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Heinz Sale Plugs Up Shareholder Dividends

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Heinz Sale Plugs Up Shareholder Dividends

Article excerpt

The steady flow of dividends from the H.J. Heinz Co. to its shareholders has ended.

The Pittsburgh ketchup maker announced Monday it has received the last of the international regulatory approvals needed to go ahead with the $28 billion cash-and-debt sale of the more than a century- old company to 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway.

Barring a last minute hiccup, Heinz will be in the hands of its new owners by Friday -- and no longer a public company reliably paying the dividends prized by long-term investors.

Shareholders approved the sale in April. They will be paid $72.50 per share, a 20 percent premium to the $60.48 closing share price on Feb. 13, the day before the announcement.

Heinz, which reported $11.6 billion in revenue during the last fiscal year, does business around the globe so bureaucrats in numerous countries had to take a look at whether its sale would create competitive concerns.

The process could have taken months, but it wrapped up quickly. In late May, the company said it won the OK of Chinese regulators and only needed the nod from European Union and Russian officials. At that point, Heinz already had been given antitrust clearance in the United States, Brazil, India, South Korea, Japan, Israel, Mexico, South Africa and Ukraine, in addition to some other needed regulatory approvals in New Zealand and Ireland.

In negotiating the sale terms, Heinz requested a provision allowing it to keep paying regular quarterly dividends on dates consistent with the company's past practice until the merger closed, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The dividend was set at 51.5 cents per share of common stock.

"The merger agreement does not permit Heinz, and Heinz does not expect, to pay a prorated dividend for the quarter in which the merger is completed," according to the SEC filings. …

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