The Pittsburgh Steelers have terminated their deal with Heinz. The team’s home stadium will longer be called Heinz Field. Who owns Heinz ketchup and why did the company cancel the deal with the Steelers?
Heinz is headquartered in Pittsburgh and signed the deal with the Steelers in 2001 before the stadium opened. The deal was for $57 million for 20 years. The value was conspicuously similar to the 57 product varieties that Heinz boasts.
Kraft and Heinz merged in 2015.
Heinz merged with Kraft in 2015 with blessings from 3G Capital and Warren Buffett-led Berkshire Hathaway. After the merger, Kraft Heinz became among the largest food companies in the U.S. As part of the deal, Heinz stockholders held a 51 percent stake in Kraft Heinz. In 2019, Buffett admitted to a mistake in Kraft Heinz and said that he overpaid for Kraft, while still calling it a “wonderful business.”
Who owns Heinz ketchup now?
Heinz ketchup is now owned by Kraft-Heinz, which is a publicly-traded company under the ticker symbol “KHC.” Berkshire Hathaway is still the largest stockholder in the company with a 26.61 percent stake. 3G Capital has been gradually selling the shares but with a 7.94 percent stake, it's the second-largest stockholder.
Buffett received a lot of flak for his investments in Kraft-Heinz and Coca-Cola. Jim Cramer was particularly critical of Buffett in the past and said that the “Oracle of Omaha” should be “constructive” and “more critical” towards the portfolio companies. Generally, Buffett takes a hands-off approach toward the companies that he invests in. Instead, he picks companies with strong and trustworthy management.
Kraft-Heinz has three other top investors.
Vanguard, State Street Global Advisors, and BlackRock Institutional Trust Company are the other three top investors in Kraft-Heinz and hold a 4.69 percent, 2.72 percent, and 2.56 percent stake, respectively. Company insiders own an 8.8 percent stake in Kraft-Heinz, while retail investors hold a 26.2 percent stake in the company.
The Steelers have entered into an agreement with Acrisure.
The Steelers have entered into a new agreement with Acrisure, a Michigan-based fintech company and the stadium is being named Acrisure Stadium. The deal value is $150 million, which is way above the previous deal between Heinz and the Steelers.
Commenting on the deal, Steelers President Art Rooney II said, "Acrisure provided us with an opportunity to ensure our stadium continues to be a valuable asset for our fans as well as keeping up with the market value of NFL stadiums.” A lot of fans aren't pleased with the change though and have been venting their anger on various social media networks.
Why did Heinz call off the deal with the Steelers?
Eventually, marketing deals like the one between Heinz and Steelers boil down to a cost-benefit analysis. In its official response, Kraft-Heinz said, “While we worked diligently with the Steelers for several months around a new naming rights deal, they found a new partner willing to pay significantly more than we could justify.”
Being a publicly-traded company, KHC has a fiduciary duty toward stockholders regarding how it allocates the marketing budget. The stock has been falling and sales have been tepid as consumers have been shifting to newer brands.
Heinz is still looking at a long-term partnership with the Steelers.
In its official response, Heinz said that it would remain a “significant, long-term sponsor of the Steelers” and would announce the details of the new partnership in due course. However, for now, the renaming of Heinz Field to Acrisure Stadium has been a heartbreak of sorts for many Steelers fans.