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Heinz names North America chief

| Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, 7:18 p.m.

HJ Heinz Co. named Eduardo Luz as president of its North America division, shaking up management for the second time since Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and 3G Capital took over the ketchup maker.

Luz is replacing Brendan Foley, according to an emailed statement from Michael Mullen, a spokesman for Pittsburgh-based Heinz. Melissa Werneck was named senior vice president of global human resources, replacing Kristen Clark. Fernando Pocaterra, president of Latin America, is going as well.

Heinz Chief Executive Officer Bernardo Hees appointed Foley, Pocaterra and Clark to their posts in June as part of a broader management overhaul. The CEO has been on a cost-cutting drive since the $29 billion acquisition in June by Jorge Paulo Lemann's 3G and Warren Buffett's Berkshire. Hees has cut jobs, announced plans to shut factories and changed policies to trim office expenses.

“These changes were made to better position the company for success in 2014 and beyond,” Mullen said in the statement. “Heinz thanks Mr. Foley, Ms. Clark and Mr. Pocaterra for their leadership and commitment.”

A successor for Latin America will be announced at a later date, Heinz said. Luz was managing director of Heinz's North American consumer products business. Werneck joined Heinz in July and was senior vice president of performance and information technology, roles she will keep. David Moran, who left Heinz in the first round of senior leadership changes, was responsible for North America before Foley.

Hees, 44, has been retooling Heinz since firing managers and reducing costs at another 3G investment, Burger King Worldwide Inc. The CEO has been pursuing cuts at the ketchup maker to speed decision making, boost margins and pay down debt.

Heinz has grounded corporate jets, pulled the plug on mini fridges at the office and placed limits on color printing, Bloomberg News reported in September. The company said last month that severance costs would be about $300 million as Hees cuts 2,000 jobs.

Sales for the quarter ended Oct. 27 slipped 3.7 percent to $2.7 billion from a year earlier, in part because of a decrease in volume in the United States and United Kingdom, Heinz said last month. The company made a “strategic decision” to focus on improving its margins and limited the frequency and depth of sales promotions, Chief Financial Officer Paul Basilio said.

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