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Kraft Heinz pulls $143 billion bid for Unilever

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NEW YORK — Food giant Kraft Heinz Co. has rescinded its bid to acquire consumer products behemoth Unilever plc.

In a joint statement on Sunday, the companies said Kraft Heinz “has amicably agreed to withdraw its proposal for a combination of the two companies.”

Published reports said Friday that Kraft Heinz offered $50 per share in cash and stock, for a total value of about $143 billion, to buy United Kingdom-based Unilever but was rejected.

Kraft Heinz_Unilever_logosThe deal would have been the biggest-ever acquisition in the food and beverage industry, creating a packaged foods and consumers goods company with annual sales of over $82 billion.

Kraft Heinz made its proposal earlier this week, but Unilever indicated that the offer undervalued the company, reports said. Neither company had publicly announced the bid, but both confirmed that a proposal had been made.

According to U.K. takeover rules, Kraft Heinz would have had until mid-March to make a firm offer for Unilever, or it would have to walk away.

Kraft Heinz is less than two years removed from its creation by the union of two consumer packaged goods giants: H.J. Heinz Co. and Kraft Foods Group Inc. Their 2015 merger created the world’s fifth-largest and North America’s third-largest food and beverage company, with annual revenue of $28 billion and joining such iconic brands as Kraft, Heinz, Oscar Mayer, Jell-O, Philadelphia and Maxwell House.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital, which together acquired Heinz in 2013, invested $10 billion in the Kraft-Heinz merger for a privately held stake in the company, which has headquarters in Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Unilever’s product roster includes leading brands in beauty and personal care as well as consumables. In the U.S. market, the company’s brands include Axe, Dove, Hellmann’s, Knorr, Lipton, Magnum, Tresemme, Vaseline, Ben & Gerry’s, Breyers, Caress, Country Crock, Degree, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Klondike, Lever 2000, Nexxus, Noxema, Pond’s, Popsicle, Q-Tips, Simple, St. Ives, Suave, TIGI and Promise.

*Editor’s Note: Article updated after companies’ joint statement.


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