February 17, 2017

Unilever says no to takeover bid by Kraft Heinz

Kraft Heinz, the food conglomerate backed by legendary investor Warren Buffett, said Friday that it made a takeover offer for European consumer products king Unilever. But Unilever said no to a deal.

"Kraft confirms that it has made a comprehensive proposal to Unilever about combining the two groups to create a leading consumer goods company with a mission of long-term growth and sustainable living," Kraft Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen said in a statement to CNNMoney.

"While Unilever has declined the proposal, we look forward to working to reach agreement on the terms of a transaction," Mullen added.

Mullen did not say how much Kraft Heinz offered for Unilever. But the two classes of Unilever stock surged more than 10% in premarket trading. Unilever is a British-Dutch conglomerate with headquarters in London and Rotterdam.

Unilever is worth more than $120 billion, though. A takeover of the company would be one of the largest in corporate history.

Unilever was not immediately available for comment.

If the two companies were to merge, the deal would combine the company famous for Kraft macaroni and cheese and Heinz ketchup with the firm that owns the Dove brand of personal care products, Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Lipton tea.

Kraft and Heinz merged in 2015. Two years earlier, Heinz was bought by Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and private equity firm 3G Capital.

Many investors have been speculating that Buffett and Kraft Heinz were itching to do another big deal. There were rumors late last year that Kraft Heinz might buy Oreo and Cadbury owner Mondelez.

Shares of Kraft Heinz were up 5% Friday morning. The stock fell more than 4% Thursday after the company reported disappointing sales.

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