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Unilever Rejects Kraft Heinz $143 Billion Merger Bid
USAgNet - 02/20/2017

Kraft Heinz announced a proposed $143 billion merger with Unilever in what would be one of the biggest deals ever.

But the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant has declined, saying in a statement the offer "fundamentally undervalues" the company.

"Unilever rejected the proposal as it sees no merit, either financial or strategic, for Unilever's shareholders. Unilever does not see the basis for any further discussions," the statement said.

Nevertheless, Unilever shares soared more than 9 percent Friday.

Sources told CNBC, however, that it would be unlikely for Kraft Heinz to pursue a deal, if Unilever's board rejects the offer by March 17.

"While Unilever has declined the proposal, we look forward to working to reach agreement on the terms of a transaction," Kraft said in a statement. "[But] there can be no certainty that any further formal proposal will be made to the Board of Unilever or that an offer will be made at all."

Kraft is backed by Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital and Warren Buffett. Two years ago, H.J. Heinz, owned by Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and 3G, announced a $45 billion takeover of Kraft Foods.

A Kraft deal with Unilever would add Hellmann's mayonnaise, Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Knorr soups to a portfolio that includes Heinz ketchup and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

In December, rumors arose that Kraft Heinz was exploring an acquisition of American packaged foods maker Mondelez International, which sources close to the matter quickly denied.

Shares of Mondelez were down 2 percent on Friday.

Under U.K. takeover law, Kraft has until March 17 to make a formal offer. Unilever's board will then make a recommendation and decide, together with shareholders, if the company should take the deal.

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