Kraft Heinz drops Unilever takeover bid

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Kraft Heinz has said it has dropped its plan to buy Anglo-Dutch rival Unilever.

Marmite-maker Unilever rejected the US food giant’s bid on Friday, saying it saw “no merit, either financial or strategic” in Kraft’s offer, worth about $143bn (£115bn).

“Unilever and Kraft Heinz hold each other in high regard,” the companies said in a joint statement.

The deal would have been one of the biggest in corporate history, combining dozens of household names.

Unilever 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.

More than half of the company’s shares are in the Dutch-listed entity, he told the BBC.

Shares in both companies rose sharply on Friday, as investors welcomed the news. A merger often aims to combine sales while cutting costs, flattering profits.


The combined group may have had more power to raise prices through more control over the branded food market.

Unilever clashed with UK supermarket Tesco in October over its attempts to raise prices to compensate for the steep drop in the value of the pound.

The consumer goods giant has over a dozen sites across the UK, including three major plants in Liverpool, Norwich and Gloucester.