Marmite’s owners definitely don’t love the offer made by Kraft Heinz!

Kraft Heinz’s recent offer to buy Unilever, the Anglo Dutch food group that produces Marmite, seems to have triggered the boardroom equivalent of the 90’s Marmite marketing campaign “Marmite – you either love it or hate it”. Unilever’s shareholders and board believe that the informal offer tabled by Kraft Heinz “undervalues the business” and that the deal “has no merit either strategic or financial”. Sources close to Kraft Heinz are reported as saying the company has taken advantage in its rising share prices since the election of Donald Trump (as seen with many other US listed companies) and that there is an “element of opportunism” in its approach to Unilever.

So where do we go from here? The opening offer of USD 50 per share values Unilever at just under USD 143bn, there is an expectation that Kraft will go back with a higher offer imminently. However, British Prime Minister Theresa May has now stepped in to request that the offer be scrutinised by Government officials in order to determine where the deal might have implications for the wider British Economy. Although Unilever is a dual listed company, with its other HQ’s being based in the Netherlands, where so far no government comment on the proposed deal has been made.

This is a deal that has the potential to be as divisive in terms of shareholder, government and public opinion as Marmite itself.