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US SEC investigates Kraft Heinze accounting

The accounting policies of Kraft Heinze have come under investigation of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company revealed in a results release, in which it also revealed it was slashing its dividend.

Kraft Heinz was created by a merger between Kraft Food and H.J Heinz in 2015.

According to the most recent release, Kraft Heinze received a subpoena in October 2018 associated with an investigation into the Company's procurement area, more specifically the Company's accounting policies, procedures, and internal controls related to its procurement function.

The company said it was full cooperating with the investigation. It said that, following the initial SEC document request, it launched an investigation into its procurement area. In the fourth quarter of 2018, as a result of findings from the investigation, it recorded a $25m increase to costs of products sold.

To put the $25m in perspective, Kraft Heinz’ reported $6.9bn global sales in Q4, and it said $25m cost increase was immaterial.

It added: “Additionally, the Company is in the process of implementing certain improvements to its internal controls to mitigate the likelihood of this occurring in the future and has taken other remedial measures. The Company continues to cooperate fully with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.”

Kraft Heinz CEO Bernardo Hees said: “We are pleased with those actions, the returns on our investments, and the momentum built for 2019. However, profitability fell short of our expectations due to a combination of unanticipated cost inflation and lower-than-planned savings. Going forward, our global focus will remain on leveraging our in-house capabilities, developing our talented people, and delivering top-tier growth at industry-leading margins."

Since news of the SEC investigation, lowering dividend payment and below expectation profitability first broke, shares at the company have plummeted from just over $48 a share to $38.

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