The Kraft Heinz Co. has withdrawn its $143 billion bid to acquire the Anglo-Dutch Unilever food, personal-care and beauty giant.
Michael Mullen, senior vice president of corporate and government affairs at Kraft, said Sunday afternoon, “Kraft Heinz's interest was made public at an extremely early stage. Our intention was to proceed on a friendly basis, but it was made clear Unilever did not wish to pursue a transaction. It is best to step away early so both companies can focus on their own independent plans to generate value. We remain focused on driving long-term value while always putting our consumers first.”Kraft’s decision was apparently triggered by the Unilever board’s advice to shareholders on its web site late Friday, bluntly declaring of the Kraft bid: “This fundamentally undervalues Unilever. Unilever rejected the proposal as it sees no merit, either financial or strategic, for Unilever’s shareholders. Unilever does not see the basis for any further discussions. Unilever plc and Unilever N.V. recommend that shareholders take no action.”The board told shareholders that the proposal represented a premium of 18 percent to the Anglo-Dutch company’s share price as of the close of business on Feb. 16.Unilever said the proposal it received was that its common shareholders would receive $50 a share in a mix of $30.23 a share in cash payable in U.S. dollars and 0.222 new, enlarged entity shares per existing Unilever share, which valued Unilever at a total equity value of about $143 billion.The deal would have added a portfolio of beauty and personal-care brands to Kraft, which owns food brands like Oscar Meyer, Kool-Aid and Jello-O. Unilever’s portfolio includes food, home and personal-care brands, such as Hellmann’s, Windex and Dove.Unilever has been working to build up its higher-end beauty portfolio in recent years with acquisitions like hair-care brand Living Proof, which closed in January, and skin-care brands Murad, Kate Somerville and Ren.Unilever’s shares traded up Thursday on rumors of the news, closing at $42.32, and were up about 10 percent, to $46.97 in premarket trading. On Friday, they closed up 12.3 percent to 44.41 euros, or $47.30.
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