CNBC on July 10 reported that Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Pablo Zuanic stated that another bid by Kraft Heinz for Unilever “is now more than 75% likely”. Furthermore, this second attempt by Kraft Heinz to acquire Unilever could come as early as August 19.
Unilever, which is co-headquartered in the U.K., is subject to the British law that says six months must pass before a company can try to make another offer for a firm it previously tried to acquire. Kraft Heinz and Unilever jointly announced on February 19 that Kraft Heinz agreed to “amicably” withdraw its bid. Therefore, Kraft Heinz could return with another bid as early as August 19. Supporting this conjecture is the fact that Kraft Heinz has not made any attempt to buy another food company in the ensuing five months since February 19.
Unilever may have left its door open on a subsequent deal after Kraft Heinz withdrew its bid by stating “Unilever and Kraft Heinz hold each other in high regard” and that “Kraft Heinz has the utmost respect for the culture, strategy and leadership of Unilever”.
Since Unilever’s shares have risen about 30% since receiving Kraft Heinz’s bid, the original offer of $143 billion may now have to be increased to about $200 billion, a 25% premium over the current market price, for it to receive serious consideration. Kraft Heinz is partly owned by 3G Capital Partners and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
Unilever represents an attractive acquisition for Kraft Heinz because of its large size, geographical diversification, and its exposure to household and personal care products. If Unilever is acquired, then a subsequent merger with Colgate-Palmolive would be a logical geographical and product extension in the household and personal care area.