According to latest reports, London-based Unilever plc. (ADR)(NYSE:UL) rebuffed the Kraft Heinz Foods Co. (NYSE:HNZ) bid on Friday, saying it saw “no merit, either financial or strategic” in US food giant’s offer of almost $143 billion.
“Unilever and Kraft Heinz hold each other in high regard,” the firm said in a joint-statement.
The agreement in case of completion would have been one of the largest in corporate history, merging dozens of household names.
Unilever plc. (ADR)(NYSE:UL) owns Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Dove soap, and Hellmann’s mayonnaise, while Kraft’s range includes Philadelphia cheese and Heinz baked beans.
“It would appear that Kraft Heinz have underestimated both the intrinsic value of Unilever and the challenge of acquiring control of a Dutch company whose stakeholders would have opposed such a move vociferously,” said Martin Deboo, a consumer goods analyst at Jefferies International.
“Kraft Heinz Foods Co. (NYSE:HNZ) interest was made public at an extremely early stage, said company’s spokesman Michael Mullen in a statement.
“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.”
Reports also said that UK Prime Minister Theresa May ordered to keep on eye on the agreement before it was finished.
Cadbury’s buyout by Kraft in 2010 was debatable enough to prompt an overhaul of the rules governing how international companies acquire UK companies.
Soon after vowing to hang onto Cadbury’s Somerdale factory, near Bristol, Kraft did a U-turn to announce the closure of the plant.
The Board of Takeovers and Mergers revised the laws and in 2011, fortified the hand of target companies, and necessitated more evidence from bidders about their targets after the acquisition, predominantly on capacities such as job cuts.