Kraft Heinz Co. made a $143 billion offer for Unilever, attempting the largest-ever takeover in the food or beverage industry to create a consumer-goods giant with household names ranging from Dove soap to Heinz ketchup. As such, Unilever said it sees "no basis" to hold further discussions with the United States group. In midday trading the company's shares were up 376.5p to £37.25, valuing Unilever at £112.7bn.
Lazard is acting as financial adviser to Kraft Heinz, according to a statement in which the food group confirmed it had made a "comprehensive proposal" about combining the companies.
The FTSE-100 giant said it had received an offer of $50 per share, consisting of $30.23 in cash and the remainder in shares of the newly formed business, which would represent a premium of 18% on its closing price on Thursday (16 February). Unilever does not see the basis for any further discussions.
The Share Centre's Ian Forrest thinks Kraft Heinz's decision to pounce on Unilever is likely driven by the weakness in sterling and the latter's fall in share price over the past six months.
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Unilever's market capitalisation is now more than £124bn, suggesting Kraft Heinz would have to pay hundreds of billions to acquire the company.
Heinz purchased Kraft in 2015, creating the third largest food and drinks company in North America at the time and the fifth largest worldwide.
At this stage, Clayton agrees with Unilever's decision to spurn the first advance from Kraft Heinz. "Inevitably, Kraft Heinz will not have led with its best offer and a protracted negotiation probably lies ahead".
The announcement came in reaction to speculation that Pittsburgh-based food maker Kraft Heinz and Netherlands and United Kingdom -headquartered Unilever would merge in a climate of slow growth, volatility in emerging markets and a trend among US customers toward natural products. Vetr upgraded shares of The Kraft Heinz Company from a "sell" rating to a "hold" rating and set a $83.62 target price on the stock in a research note on Tuesday, January 10th. Earlier this week, Kraft Heinz revealed that its fourth-quarter sales fell 3.7% year-on-year, resulting in a 5% drop in its share price. The Kraft Heinz Company has 1 year price target of $90.29.