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Unilever's 'Reviewing Options'

February 23, 2017

Seeks ways to boost shareholder value.

Looks like the cheese-and-ketchup maker has lit a fire under Unilever executives. The world's No. 2 FMCG company said it is reviewing options after rival Kraft Heinz withdrew a $143 billion takeover offer. The owner of brands including Hellman's and Lipton says it is "conducting a comprehensive review of options available" to boost shareholder value quickly. It expects the review to be completed by early April, but did not specify what it might entail.


The deal that was withdrawn would have combined Kraft Heinz products such as Oscar Mayer, Jell-O and Velveeta with Unilever's stable of brands, which include food as well as other consumer goods like Dove soap and Vaseline. The merged company would have rivaled Nestle as the world's biggest packaged food maker by sales. Unilever and Kraft Heinz said in a joint press release on Sunday that Kraft Heinz had "amicably" abandoned its offer. The deal that was withdrawn would have combined Kraft Heinz products such as Oscar Mayer, Jell-O and Velveeta with Unilever's stable of brands, which include food as well as other consumer goods like Dove soap and Vaseline.


Shares of Unilever PLC, which has a head office in London, rose more than 2% premarket trading on the New York Stock Exchange, but closed nearly flat at day's end. Observers say shifting tastes are partly driving more deal-making in the food industry as smaller food makers market products that seem more wholesome. In turn, major packaged food companies are being forced to dig deeper to find cost efficiencies or tap into new markets.