Judge grants motion for discovery in lawsuits to block $28B Heinz acquisition
A Federal judge in Pittsburgh on Thursday ordered H.J. Heinz Co. to turn over documents and make CEO William Johnson available for questioning by lawyers for shareholders suing to
block the company's $28 billion acquisition by Warren Buffett and a Brazilian investment firm.
The two shareholder lawsuits against the Heinz board of directors, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and 3G Capital Management claims that their deal shortchanges shareholders because it keeps other interested parties from offering a higher price for the company.
The order by Judge David Stewart Cercone gives Heinz two weeks to turn over documents and then a week later make Johnson, director Thomas J. Usher, who headed a special committee set up to consider the transaction, and three others available for depositions.
The lawsuits were filed by Hannon's Inc., a Maryland company that owns Heinz stock, and shareholder James Clem, who was not otherwise identified. They contend Johnson, fellow executives of Heinz and the board intend to cash out millions in stock and benefits that are not available to shareholders. Johnson could receive a payout of up to $212 million.
Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen said the company “does not comment on ongoing litigation.” Heinz shareholders will vote on the proposed $72.50 per share buyout on April 30 in New York.
John D. Oravecz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7882 or email@example.com.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.