US billionaire Warren Buffett is set to buy food giant Heinz in a deal worth $28bn (£18bn).Mr Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway company and private equity firm 3G have agreed to take over the food company, famous for its ketchup and baked beans.
Heinz called the deal "historic", and the largest to date in the food industry.
Shares in Heinz soared in early trading in New York. They rose nearly 20% to more than $72 a share.
The takeover has been approved by the company's board, but still needs to be voted on by shareholders.
"The Heinz brand is one of the most respected brands in the global food industry and this historic transaction provides tremendous value to Heinz shareholders," said Heinz chairman, president and chief executive William Johnson.
"We look forward to partnering with Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital, both greatly respected investors, in what will be an exciting new chapter in the history of Heinz."
'Sage of Omaha' The deal will marry one of the best-known brands in the food industry with one of the US's most famous businessmen.
- Founded by HJ Heinz and neighbour Clarence Nobel in 1869
- 1.5 million cans of beans sold in the UK every day
- Annual ketchup sales total more than $1.5bn from 140 countries
- The first Heinz product was horseradish sauce
Mr Buffett is one of the richest men in the world, having amassed a multi-billion-dollar fortune over decades of investing. His investment expertise has earned him the nickname "the sage of Omaha"."It is our kind of company," Mr Buffett told CNBC. "I've sampled it many times."
"Anytime we see a deal is attractive and it's our kind of business and we've got the money, I'm ready to go," he said.
3G Capital also owns the fast-food chain Burger King.
The deal will offer shareholders $72.50 a share, a 20% premium on the company's previous all-time high share price.
Berkshire Hathaway will contribute $12bn-$13bn in cash to the deal.
Heinz has been operating in the US market since it was founded in Pittsburgh in the late 19th Century.
Heinz says it sells 650 million bottles of its ketchup worldwide every year, and it is the biggest seller of baked beans in the UK.
The BBC's Mark Gregory said the deal was not just for old times' sake, and that Heinz now does much of its business in fast growing, developing economies.
In the UK and Ireland it employs approximately 2,500 people.
Unite, Britain's biggest union, has called for a meeting with Heinz for assurances over jobs in the UK.