Heinz lawyers among 250 jobs at risk in UK and Ireland

In-house lawyers at global food conglomerate Heinz are facing redundancy in the UK and Ireland after the ketchup-maker cut 600 office positions across the US. 

Sources have told The Lawyer that a number of senior people within Heinz’s legal team are looking to leave the business after it was made clear that their jobs were in jeopardy. European general counsel Janice More declined to comment on the number of positions under threat.

In a statement Heinz said: “After a comprehensive evaluation process, the company has developed a proposed new streamlined structure for Heinz UK & Ireland.

“Unfortunately, the proposals may result in a number of difficult organizational changes, including the elimination of 248 office positions across the UK and Ireland. We regret the impact this may have on Heinz employees and their families.

“The proposal is subject to a consultation process with employees and their representatives, and Heinz is committed to ensuring all employees are treated with the utmost respect and compassion.

”In the event that after consultation a decision is made to proceed with the proposals, the company would offer enhanced severance benefits plus outplacement services to help make the transition as smooth as possible, and to help affected employees pursue new career opportunities.”

Last year the baked-bean maker drastically cut its roster of external law firms from more than 50 to just three after a Europe-wide panel review favoured Eversheds, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and legacy Herbert Smith (13 March 2012).

In February, US firms Davis Polk & Wardwell, Kirkland & Ellis and Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz won roles on the $28bn (£18bn) takeover of Heinz by an investment consortium (15 February 2013). 

The deal – said to be the largest ever transaction in the food industry – saw Kirkland & Ellis and Californian firm Munger Tolles & Olsen instructed for the buyers 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway, led by US investor Warren Buffett. Heinz chairman, president and CEO William Johnson said the deal represented an “exciting new chapter” in the history of the company. 

Pittsburgh-based general counsel Dan Shaw did not respond to calls for comment.