Former Heinz CEO Anthony J.F. O’Reilly Declares Bankruptcy

This clears the way to file for an insolvency arrangement, according to the Irish Times newspaper. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

O’Reilly, who left the Heinz CEO role in 1998 but remained as chairman until 2000, was Chief Executive’s 1990 CEO of the Year. (

During O’Reilly’s tenure, Heinz’s profit margins have grown to 39 percent of sales while return on equity climbed to a healthy 26.1 percent, Chief Executive magazine said in 1990. With 40 percent of1989 income realized from international operations, O’Reilly relishes Heinz’s position as a major player for the next decade. Charles Sanford of Bankers Trust summed up the selection committee’s decision: “He’s turned Heinz into a truly global competitor which is number one or two in 46 distinct product categories in over 200 countries. He also caught early on the current drift toward nutrition and health and acquired the right product mix to capitalize on it.

In more than a decade Anthony O’Reilly has made Heinz a truly global company. “You can’t argue with Heinz’s financial record under his leadership,” said Manufacturers Hanover’s Tom Johnson. “He has not only a great bottom line, but inspirational and motivational ability as well,” added Wharton’s Russ Palmer. Last year’s Chief Executive of the Year, Ford Motor’s Don Petersen, said “Tony O’Reilly clearly understands that the CEO’s role includes providing inspiration.” Transamerica’s Jim Harvey agrees: “In addition to his financial performance, his inspirational and motivational impact is obvious. “He has made good on all his goals,” observed Columbia’s Robert Lear. “The combination of total quality, total return, and total world marketing has produced superb results,” said Public Service Company of New Mexico’s Jerry Geist.

He was first reported to be considering chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2014, as advised by his bankruptcy law counsel. He owed millions to several banks, taking major hits to his finances through investments in news and crystal-making operations. According to Richard M. Weaver Bankruptcy Attorney serving Irving, Mr. O’Reilly has already begun selling assets to satisfy creditors, including selling his 750-acre estate called Castlemartin. A former Irish rugby star who served as the first non-U.S. born leader of Heinz and was later knighted by Queen Elizabeth, Mr. O’Reilly’s name may be most familiar to Pittsburghers through the O’Reilly Theater in the Cultural District. According to a Post-Gazette report in 1999, Heinz executives and Mr. O’Reilly’s wife contributed funds to get his name on the theater.  (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Read more about Anthony O’Reilly’s history.

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