Warren Buffett, the billionaire who helped assemble food-and-beverage giant Kraft Heinz Co., will retire from its board as he cuts down on travel commitments.
Buffett, 87, will step down at the end of his term, Kraft Heinz said Friday in a statement. The company will nominate Alexandre Van Damme to fill the vacancy. Buffett’s firm, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., is still represented on the board by Tracy Britt Cool and Greg Abel.
Buffett has been decreasing commitments to other company boards in recent years. He stepped down from the board of Washington Post Co. in 2011 and retired from Coca-Cola Co.’s board in 2006. The investor was instrumental in the formation of Kraft Heinz, teaming up with Jorge Paulo Lemann’s 3G Capital to buy ketchup maker H.J. Heinz in 2013 and merge it with Kraft Foods Group Inc. two years later.
Kraft Heinz shares dipped on the news in late trading Friday, falling as much as 1.5 percent to $67.98 before recovering. Buffett’s financing is seen as pivotal to the company’s acquisition ambitions, which are a key to growth for an outfit that has been cutting costs.
The shares have been hammered since the company’s bid for Unilever collapsed a little over a year ago, falling nearly 30 percent and wiping out more than $33 billion in market value. That deal fell apart after resistance from Unilever Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman, and in part because of Buffett’s well-known aversion to hostile takeovers.
Van Damme is a board member of Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and Restaurant Brands International Inc., according to the Kraft Heinz statement.
Berkshire, where Buffett is chairman and CEO, is releasing its annual letter to shareholders Saturday. Bloomberg’s Top Live blog will cover Berkshire’s annual report and Buffett’s letter to investors starting at 7:40 a.m. in New York.