August 26, 2019 / 12:23 PM / 4 months ago

Kraft Heinz brings back former CFO after accounting missteps

FILE PHOTO: Shareholders shop for discounted products at the Kraft Heinz booth at the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Scott Morgan

(Reuters) - Kraft Heinz Co’s (KHC.O) newly-appointed chief executive officer replaced finance chief David Knopf on Monday in what he said was a strategic decision, naming the more “seasoned” Paulo Basilio, after the company was forced to restate three years of results.

Basilio had been Heinz’s finance chief when it merged with Kraft in 2015 and remained in the role in the unified company until October 2017, when Kraft Heinz’s second largest shareholder 3G Capital persuaded the board to embark on changes centering around heavy cost-cutting.

Under 31-year old Knopf, who would return to his role as a partner at 3G Capital, Kraft Heinz has this year written down $15.4 billion in the value of two marquee brands, slashed dividends and withdrawn its financial outlook.

The change is the first big move by new CEO Miguel Patricio since the Portuguese marketing veteran was brought in from Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR) in April with the aim of rebooting Kraft Heinz.

The packaged food company, which counts billionaire Warren Buffett as its largest investor, has been battered by competition from private-label brands, changing consumer tastes and lower investment in its brands.

An internal investigation into the company’s accounting issues in May required adjustments of about $208 million related to the costs of products sold, while saying that there had been no misconduct from any member of Kraft Heinz’s senior management.

Shares of the company, which have lost nearly half of their value since February, were up nearly 1% in morning trading.

Basilio, currently the chief business planning and development officer for Kraft Heinz, will take over from Sept. 1. (bit.ly/2ZdS45M)

Knopf, a former Goldman Sachs analyst, did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Shinjini Ganguli

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