The economy rebounded strongly last year and so too did merger and acquisition activity. When you start flipping through The Top 50, you may be surprised at the companies and brands that have changed hands during the past year. The biggest, and perhaps the most inscrutable, is also the most recent. In June, Sealed Air agreed to acquire Diversey Holdings in a $4.3 billion deal that is aimed to add sales to emerging-market food processors who are concerned about product safety. Sealed Air, a maker of protective packaging, chose Diversey because it’s the No. 1 player in food-safety related products in emerging markets, according to Sealed Air CEO William Hickey. Maybe, but bubble wrap and I&I cleaners doesn’t appear to be a perfect fit. The purchase of Sturtevant, WI-based Diversey is the largest of at least 28 acquisitions of soap and cleaning preparation companies for which financial terms were disclosed in the past five years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Of course, there’s been plenty of acquisition activity on the personal care side of the business as well. For the past couple of years, Sara Lee has been cutting its exposure to household and personal care by selling such well-known brands as Ambi-Pur and Sanex—all in an effort to concentrate on its core food business. But as we went to press, Sara Lee was said to be an acquisition target of Smithfield Foods Inc., owner of the world’s biggest hog slaughterhouse. Smithfield execs are said to be licking their chops over the thought of adding brands like Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm and Ball Park to their cupboard.
But enough about cold cuts…let’s get back to cosmetics and personal care. The Top 50, our annual look at the leading US companies in the household and personal products industry, has been transformed by acquisitions such as Unilever’s $3.7 billion acquisition of Alberto-Culver, Sanofi’s purchase of Chattem for $1.9 billion and Coty’s estimated $1 billion purchase of OPI. At the same time, several brands have changed hands; such as Combe’s multi-brand sale to Reckitt Benckiser and Blistex.
Bigger deals may be on the horizon. Just last month, rumors were floating around the internet about a possible (and preposterous) acquisition of Unilever by P&G! To keep up with the tips, trends and takeovers, keep reading Happi and Happi.com. To catch up on what’s happened in the past 12 months or so in our industry, take a look at The Top 50 on the following pages. Finally, to learn more about the multibillion companies in our industry with headquarters outside the US, firms such as L’Oréal, Shiseido and, of course, Unilever, be sure to read The International Top 30, which is published next month.
The Top 50