plastic, plastics, packaging
Unilever, which lists Marmite amongst its leading brands, strongly rebuffed Kraft Heinz's bid

Food and drinks giant Kraft Heinz has abandoned a move to buy Anglo-Dutch rival Unilever after having a $143 billion offer rejected on Friday.

Unilever rejected the US company’s bid saying it did not see financial or strategic merit in it, although both companies saw their share prices soar by more than ten per cent upon the news. Unilever shares dropped back by eight per cent today after Kraft Heinz declared that it would not be returning with an improved offer.

The deal would have been one of the largest in corporate history, but with Unilever expecting to keep posting solid growth in the years to come, the proposed merger was always going to be a challenging proposition. Unilever operates more than a dozen sites across the UK.

Controlled by billionaire investor Warren Buffett and Brazilian private equity firm 3G, Kraft acquired British confectionery stalwart Cadbury in 2010 before merging with Heinz in 2015 to become the world’s fifth-largest food and beverage firm.

Analysts believe that Unilever’s strong rebuffal of the initial offer by Kraft Heinz led the latter to the conclusion that the only way forward was a hostile takeover bid, which could have ended up being very expensive.

A joint statement said: “Unilever and Kraft Heinz hereby announce that Kraft Heinz has amicably agreed to withdraw its proposal for a combination of the two companies. Unilever and Kraft Heinz hold each other in high regard. Kraft Heinz has the utmost respect for the culture, strategy and leadership of Unilever.”

Vodafone’s $183bn takeover of Germany’s Mannesmann in 2000 remains the largest corporate takeover in history.

Last week Kraft Heinz said it had made significant gains in the final quarter of 2016, with net profits tripling to $944 million.

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