Ex-RR executive tapped to head Burger King

By Associated Press
Posted Sep. 9, 2010 at 11:47 a.m.

Burger King’s soon-to-be new owners have named a former Latin American railroad executive to be CEO of the fast-food chain after the $3.26 billion deal goes through.

The appointment of Bernardo Hees by 3G Capital is a signal that the investment firm is serious about expanding the Burger King brand further into Latin America and elsewhere abroad.

Hees will replace John Chidsey,  CEO since 2006 of the fast-food chain that has struggled in the economic downturn to keep people dining at its restaurants. Chidsey will become co-chairman after the deal closes.

Hees was most recently CEO of America Latina Logistica, Latin America’s largest railroad company, in which 3G Capital owns a stake of about 6 percent. He became a partner at 3G Capital in July.

Ties between the companies are deep. Alexandre Behring, managing partner at 3G Capital, co-founded the railroad company in 1997 and served as its CEO from 1998 to 2004. He is set to become co-chairman as well after the deal closes.

“Bernardo is an experienced executive with an impressive track record of enhancing performance at America Latina Logistica, where he managed a team that drove strong gains in both revenues and profitability,” Behring said in a statement. “I know he will be an excellent steward of the Burger King brand.”

3G Capital, which made its offer last week, is expected to begin its effort to acquire the outstanding shares of Miami-based Burger King for $24 per share by Sept. 17.

The company has struggled in the weak economy as its main customers — men 18 to 34 — suffer high rates of unemployment. It perenially is No. 2 to its far larger competitor McDonald’s Corp., which has more locations abroad.

3G has not said much about its plans for the company but told franchisees and investors in a letter on its Web site posted last week that it plans to invest in the brand and highlighted opportunities in Asia and Latin America.

The investment firm has strong ties to Latin America, including ties to Jorge Paulo Lemann, a 71-year-old Brazilian billionaire.

It also has a focus on consumer-oriented businesses. The firm’s other controlling or partial stakes include brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev and Lojas Americanas, a major Brazilian retailer and travel agency.

Hees began at America Latina Logistica in 1998 as a logistics analyst. He held a variety of executive positions there and had served as CEO since 2005.

On Aug. 31, just days before the Burger King deal was announced, the Brazilian railroad company announced that Hees would step down as CEO but remain on the board of directors. The company named chief operating officer Paulo Basilio to replace him Sept. 10.

Burger King shares rose 2 cents, to $23.69, in midday trading Thursday.

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One comment:

  1. Ray Kroc Sep. 9, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Let’s see…a non-American, who ran a Brazilian railroad, with no fast food experience, is now in charge of the Whopper!!! That sounds like a real good fit. The folks at Mickey D’s must be……..