By Jonathan Davies

US food giant Kraft is to merge with Heinz, creating the third-largest food company in the US.

The deal was made by Heinz' owners, Brazilian private equity firm 3G capital and billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

Heinz shareholders will own 51% and Kraft's will own the remaining 49% of the newly merged company.

Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway chief executive, said: "I am delighted to play a part in bringing these two winning companies and their iconic brands together.

"This is my kind of transaction, uniting two world-class organisations and delivering shareholder value. I'm excited by the opportunities for what this new combined organisation will achieve."

Alex Behring, chairman of Heinz and the managing partner at 3G Capital, said: "By bringing together these two iconic companies through this transaction, we are creating a strong platform for both US and international growth."

Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital bought Heinz in 2013 for $23bn (£15.5bn) and took the company private.

Kraft is famous for its cheese and the Philadelphia brand. It also owns Maxwell Coffee House and bought Cadbury in 2010 for £11.5bn, although it spun-off the chocolate maker to a company called Mondelez, which includes Toblerone, Kenco and Oreo.