the two-time finance chief of consumer-goods giant
Kraft Heinz Co.
who pruned the company’s portfolio and brought down debt, also trained up his own successor.
The maker of products such as Heinz Tomato Ketchup and Kraft Mac and Cheese on Friday said Mr. Basilio would step down as part of a planned transition, effective March 1. He will be succeeded by
who leads the finances of the company’s roughly $19 billion U.S. business and heads up its digital transformation unit.
Mr. Basilio served as finance chief of H.J. Heinz Co. from 2013 to 2015—before the company’s merger with Kraft Foods Group Inc.—and led the finance function of the merged entities from 2015 to 2017. He returned to his former job in 2019 after the company missed several of its forecasts, wrote down the value of some of its brands and slashed its dividend.
During his years with the company, Mr. Basilio promoted various finance professionals, including Mr. Maciel, who joined in 2013 and held a long list of positions in Kraft Heinz’s finance organization.
“One of Paulo’s greatest accomplishments was in developing key talent within the finance team, including Andre Maciel, the individual I selected to be his successor,” Chief Executive Officer
said in a news release.
Building a deep bench of internal candidates is an important task for finance professionals. Promotions from inside organizations have increased recently, with 61.5% of CFOs at companies in the S&P 500 and Fortune 500 recruited internally in 2021, up from 56.9% in 2020, according to the Crist Kolder Volatility Report tracking executive moves.
Mr. Basilio during his second tenure pruned Kraft Heinz’s portfolio, for example by selling off its nuts business, including the Planters brand, for $3.35 billion in 2021 and by finding a new owner for some of its cheese brands in 2020, for $3.2 billion.
He led the company’s finances through a surge in consumer demand during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic and reduced its debt, which stood at $21.80 billion at the end of September, down from $27.81 billion at the end of 2019, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence, a data provider. He also helped resolve an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission that accused the food maker of manipulating expenses during a time of aggressive cost cuts.
The change in the top finance seat comes as Kraft Heinz, like many other food companies, is battling higher costs stemming from supply-chain challenges and inflation for packaging and key commodities, including dairy, meat and coffee. The company in recent months has been raising prices across categories to offset some of the cost increases.
The incoming CFO, Mr. Maciel, has several years of experience managing costs and revenue. In the past, he led the company’s zero-based budgeting program, a tool that companies use to bring down expenses across the business by building every year’s budget from scratch.
Mr. Maciel will likely help Kraft Heinz continue its efforts to offset inflation and higher supply-chain costs, for example by increasing prices or potentially reducing the amount of a certain product in a package without altering the price, said Erin Lash, a director of consumer equity research at Morningstar Inc.’s research division.
“Putting through price increases to offset higher commodity costs is definitely a path that the firm can continue to pursue,” Ms. Lash said.
In his new role, Mr. Maciel will have an annual base salary of $650,000 and a bonus of up to 175% of his base salary, Kraft Heinz said in a filing with securities regulators. He is set to receive an initial merit equity award of $2 million in March 2022, consisting of 60% performance share units and 40% restricted stock units, which will vest over time, among other compensation.
Kraft Heinz declined to comment beyond its news release.
—Maria Armental and Mark Maurer contributed to this article.
Write to Nina Trentmann at [email protected]
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