Heinz deal could grow Kerry’s portfolio

Secretary of State John Kerry listened to his wife, Teresa Heinz, during his ceremonial swearing-in.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Secretary of State John Kerry listened to his wife, Teresa Heinz, during his ceremonial swearing-in.

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry’s family financial portfolio could grow by hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of the $23 billion mega-deal between Nebraska billionaire Warren Buffett and a Brazil-owned investment firm to buy out ketchup and food producer H.J. Heinz Co.

Kerry, as part of his confirmation last month, agreed to divest holdings in dozens of companies after leaving his Massachusetts Senate seat. But Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, held at least $3 million in Heinz stock through family trusts as of 2010, according to his most recent financial disclosure form. She was allowed to keep those assets under a January agreement approved by government ethics officials.

Under the terms of the Heinz deal announced Thursday, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital, an investment firm based in Rio de Janeiro and New York, will pay $72.50 a share for Heinz, which closed at $60.48 on Wednesday. The buyers will pay $23 billion in cash and assume more than $4 billion in debt.


Kerry did not file an updated financial disclosure before his confirmation, so it is not clear whether his wife’s trusts sold off any of its Heinz stock since 2010. But based on the Kerrys’ known Heinz stock holdings of about $3 million and the stock’s $49.46 per share value at the end of 2010, the couple could have reaped as much as $1 million from the terms of the offer, according to an Associated Press analysis.

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Kerry told State Department officials earlier this year that his wife is a beneficiary of three family trusts, each of which held more than $1 million in Heinz stock in 2010. In his recent divestment agreement, Kerry said he was not a beneficiary of his wife’s trusts but agreed to recuse himself from decisions involving the Heinz company when appropriate.

‘‘I will need to recuse from certain matters involving H.J. Heinz Company because the investment of the trusts in H.J. Heinz Company stock is greater than their investment in other publicly traded stocks,’’ Kerry told State’s Deputy Legal Adviser Richard C. Visek on Jan. 8.

Kerry also agreed to bow out when necessary from State decisions that could affect 16 of Heinz’ foreign subsidiaries and partners.

The agreement indicated Kerry would complete the divestments and other arrangement within 90 days of his confirmation, which occurred Jan. 29. State officials were not immediately available to comment on the Heinz deal’s impact on his finances and divestment plans.

AP Business Writer Seth Sutel in New York contributed to this report.