By Micah Maidenberg
The private-equity firm that helped create Kraft Heinz Co. has sold about 9% of its stake in the struggling food maker, a move that weighed on the company's shares Tuesday.
Entities affiliated with 3G Capital on Monday sold about 25.1 million shares in the company at $28.44 a share, equating to $712.9 million, according to a regulatory filing.
Following the sale, the Brazilian firm, which is Kraft Heinz's second-largest shareholder after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., owns about 245 million shares, or 20%, of the Chicago-based company.
Shares of Kraft Heinz fell almost 4% in Tuesday morning trading. They have fallen 34% so far this year, driven lower by weak sales, asset write-downs and accounting errors.
"In the midst of an attempt to turn the business around, we don't think it sends an encouraging signal to the market that 3G Capital...is reducing its holdings at this particular point in time," analysts at Guggenheim Securities LLC said in a research note.
3G Capital has sold its holdings in Kraft Heinz before. In August of last year, it sold about 21 million shares at $59.85 a share, according to Guggenheim Securities.
3G worked with Berkshire Hathaway to merge Kraft Foods Group and H.J. Heinz in 2015. Berkshire has a 27% stake in Kraft Heinz, according to FactSet.
The private-equity firm has also backed the parent of fast-food chain Burger King, Restaurant Brands International Inc., and created, through a series of mergers, beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev SA.
The recent sale of shares as well as prior stock sales were driven by "periodic liquidity windows" that allow investors in the 3G fund that holds Kraft Heinz stock to sell, a Kraft Heinz spokesman said Tuesday. The private-equity firm remains a committed long-term owner of Kraft Heinz and doesn't plan, at present, to sell additional shares, he added.
Jorge Paulo Lemann, a co-founder of 3G and a director on the Kraft Heinz board, on Monday spent about $100 million to purchase almost 3.5 million shares of the company, a separate filing showed.
"I am increasing my investment in Kraft Heinz because I believe in its potential for a turnaround, and plan to hold this investment for the long run," Mr. Lemann said in a statement.
Other 3G partners also bought another 3.5 million Kraft Heinz shares, the Kraft Heinz spokesman said. The names of those buyers weren't disclosed.
Write to Micah Maidenberg at email@example.com