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Kraft Heinz has pulled its GBP112bn (US$139.1bn) takeover bid for consumer goods giant Unilever.

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

Kraft Heinz shocked the markets on Friday (17 February) when it revealed Unilever management had rejected a proposed takeover offer. At the time, a spokesperson for Kraft Heinz told just-food the company was still “working to reach agreement on the terms of a transaction”. 

Kraft Heinz offered GBP40 (US$50) per Unilever share, of which $30.23 would be in cash, with the rest 0.222 new shares in the combined entity. The proposed offer represented a multiple of 14.5 times Unilever’s 2016 EBITDA.

According to a report in The Financial Times yesterday (19 February), Kraft Heinz’s main backers – Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and Brazilian private-equity group 3G Capital – decided that a protracted takeover battle “would have done more harm than good”. 

A spokesperson for Kraft Heinz told just-food the company’s “interest was made public at an extremely early stage”. 

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The spokesperson continued: “Our intention was to proceed on a friendly basis, but it was made clear Unilever did not wish to pursue a transaction. It is best to step away early so both companies can focus on their own independent plans to generate value. We remain focused on driving long-term value while always putting our consumers first.”

Kraft Heinz will be blocked by UK takeover regulations from making a further approach for Unilever for a period of six months.