Unilever today rejected Kraft Heinz Co.’s surprising $143 billion bid to take over the company, stating that it did not see a reason for the deal which they believe has no strategic or financial merit.
Unilever, the makers of popular brands such as Dove soaps and Lipton tea, said Kraft’s offer, which was around $50 per share, undervalued the company and recommended to shareholders that they do not take action. Kraft replied by saying they are hoping to be “working to reach agreement on the terms of a transaction”.
Response and Reaction
Analysts believe this statement is an indication that Kraft is open to making a higher offer, although the company previously stated that it did not see anymore basis for other discussions.
Unilever shares soared 14%, a current record high. This afternoon (GMT), it was up 13% at $46.92, just short of Kraft’s offer price.
If the two multinational corporations merged, it will be the third-largest takeover throughout history, and the largest acquisition of any UK-based company, stated Thomson Reuters data.
Kraft’s approach comes in a time that the food industry struggles with slow growth, newer competition, deflation in more developed markets, and more.
Unilever’s presence is larger than most of their peers in similar markets, and were once a huge driver for industry growth, but recently have slowed in global markets, especially after the U.K’s decision to leave the EU.
Kraft is actually a smaller company than Unilever, as their market value is $106 billion. The company is 50.9% owned by popular billionaire Warren Buffett, who chairs the Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N) and 3G Capital corporations.
Unilever said that Kraft’s proposal is representative of an 18% premium on its share prices Thursday, one day before the bid had been announced.
“This is cheap money meeting industrial logic,” said Steve Clayton, the manager of HL Select’s UK Shares fund, which also owns Unilever shares.
The deal can offer opportunities for combining manufacturing, marketing, and distribution all while cutting costs.
“Kraft Heinz are attempting a massive push on the Fast Forward button…to acquire the sheer scale of brands that Unilever represents through one-off acquisitions could take decades,” added Clayton.