Investors in The Kraft Heinz Company are urging their fellow stakeholders to remain invested in the company by staging protests in New York and Omaha.
Krupa Global Investments, a Prague-based activist investment firm, held protests outside Brazilian private-equity firm 3G Capital’s New York office and Berkshire Hathaway’s Omaha headquarters Wednesday to protest what Krupa believes is a slow “abandoning” of Kraft Heinz. Krupa owns a roughly $100 million stake in the ketchup maker, according to a statement published by Krupa Wednesday. The protests aim to call attention to the roughly 30 percent fall of Kraft Heinz’s stock since its initial public offering in 2015, Krupa’s statement said.
According to Juraj Krupa, a portfolio manager at the investment firm, Krupa reached out to 3G and Berkshire Hathaway in the hopes that the three could work on a turnaround strategy for Kraft Heinz. So far, neither have responded, he said.
So Krupa, which used to be known as Arca Capital, brought in reinforcements. The protestors — clad in ketchup, mustard, pickle, and, oddly, tyrannosaurus rex costumes — marched up and down Third Ave. in front of 3G’s offices. They also gathered in Omaha at Berkshire Hathaway’s headquarters.
“Stocks are down, we need to catch up, 3G Capital, clean the mess up,” the New York protestors chanted Wednesday.
According to Juraj Krupa, the picketing will continue until 3G or Berkshire Hathaway respond. A spokesperson for 3G declined to comment. A spokesperson for Berkshire Hathaway did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“These protests will last a few days, and will show that Mr. [Warren] Buffett and 3G capital should take certain steps and discuss with shareholders,” Juraj Krupa said by phone Wednesday.
A Kraft Heinz spokesperson said in an emailed statement, “We always welcome feedback from our shareholders and investors, and are happy to meet with Krupa Global Investments to discuss the many ongoing investments we’re making to support our iconic brands and to drive growth. We firmly believe we are aligned with this group’s goals to drive and ensure Kraft Heinz’s long-term value and profitability.”
In February, Kraft Heinz announced the retirement of Buffett from its board. Krupa views this move as “disheartening,” according to its investor letter, noting that the firm believes that Buffett should remain involved with the company to implement a turnaround strategy.
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Similarly, in the investor letter, Krupa said that 3G’s cost-trimming measures have led to a loss of market share and that it has not made the necessary strategic acquisitions to keep Kraft Heinz afloat. Both 3G and Berkshire need to aid Kraft Heinz in paying down its roughly $30 billion debt, the activist firm claimed.
Krupa’s ultimate goals are a stock buyback program for Kraft Heinz, and then for Berkshire and 3G to take it private after just three years on the public markets. “KGI does not make[sic] generally view ‘going private’ transactions favorably, however, Kraft Heinz presents an ideal case for a fair value privatization considering the significant capital-intensive investments needed and the strong track records of both Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital,” according to Krupa’s letter to investors.