Warren Buffett buys Heinz: The Sage of Omaha’s biggest deals

Warren Buffett buys Heinz: The Sage of Omaha’s biggest deals

Buffett’s move to buy Heinz, along with 3G Capital, in a $ 28bn pact, ranks among his largest deals. The billionaire’s investment vehicle is putting up between $ 12bn and $ 13bn in cash as part of the purchase, according to US news channel CNBC. “It’s my kind of deal and it’s my kind of partner,” Mr Buffett told CNBC, adding that Berkshire and 3G would be equal equity partners. He noted that the company’s signature ketchup had been around for more than a century, saying: “I’ve sampled it many times.”

Just over three years ago, Buffett placed the largest single wager of his investing career, gambling on “the economic future of the United States” by taking control of the American rail giant Burlington Northern Santa Fe in a $ 44bn deal. Burlington is America’s largest railway by revenue, operating freight across large swathes of the west and mid-west. Its tracks are also used by a variety of passenger services. “It’s an all-in wager on the economic future of the United States,” said Mr Buffett at the time. “I love these bets.”

Buffett made a $ 16bn move for the “insurer’s insurer” in 1998. General Re was the largest reinsurance company in America and earned $ 1bn a year in revenues in the years before Buffett’s purchase. Buffett argued that the investment was benefical because of the synergies it could generate.

Bank of America

Two and a half years ago, Buffett invested $ 5bn in Bank of America in a show of support similar to the help it gave Goldman Sachs during the financial crisis. At the time, Bank of America shares had lost around a third of their value due to worries over its financial health. Buffett’s bet on Bank of America earned him a paper profit of $ 280m in just 24 hours.

Goldman Sachs

During the financial crisis, Buffett invested $ 5bn in Goldman Sachs. The billionaire investor later admitted that this investment was a bet the US would use debt to prop up the economy. “It was a bet essentially on the fact that the government would not really shirk its responsibility at a time like that to leverage up at a time when the rest of the world was trying to deleverage,” the investor said.


Making good a pledge that he was on the hunt for big acquisitions, back in March 2011 Buffett aggred to pay $ 9bn for US chemicals maker Lubrizol. Lubrizol, which is based in Ohio, has factories in almost 20 countries. The company expanded into Britain in the 1930s in its first venture outside the US. Buffett said at the time: “Lubrizol is exactly the sort of company with which we love to partner.”

The one that got away?

Reports last month suggested that Buffett made a bid to acquire New York Stock Exchange operator NYSE Euronext last November, but his offer was less than one already on the table from IntercontinentalExchange. Two sources told CNBC that Buffett’s conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway was the “Company A” bidder disclosed in a regulatory filing by IntercontinentalExchange. The latter agreed to buy NYSE Euronext in late December for $ 8.2bn following about two months of talks.

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