LONDON, Feb 17 (IFR) - Blue chip advisers in the City of
London could reap a fee bonanza of more than US$200m from Kraft
Heinz’s US$143bn approach for Anglo-Dutch household goods group
Unilever, which was immediately rejected.
Lazard is financial adviser to Kraft Heinz. Morgan Stanley
and Centerview are acting for Unilever, alongside retained
corporate brokers UBS and Deutsche.
Kraft Heinz did not disclose the terms of any transaction.
Unilever said the proposal was pitched at US$50 a share, a
premium of 18% to Thursday’s closing price of 3347.5p, and was a
mix of US$30.23 in cash, payable in US dollars, and 0.222 of
shares in the new company.
The deal is larger than AB InBev’s US$110bn takeover of
fellow brewer SAB Miller, completed last year. That was another
coup for Lazard, which was lead adviser to AB InBev. That deal
brought in an estimated US$123m in fees for Lazard, and US277m
for all the financial advisers on the deal.
Kraft Heinz was only created in 2015 via a cash and shares
offer from Heinz for Kraft, valuing the latter at US$51bn.
Lazard advised Heinz on that deal and Centerview acted for
Kraft. The deal was financed by US investor Warren Buffett and
Brazilian private equity group 3G.
The duo ended up with 51% of the resulting company and
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is now the largest shareholder with
Lazard’s UK head William Rucker is named as an adviser on
the Unilever approach, alongside Will Lawes and Alexander Hecker
in the US.
Centerview are in a prime position to advise Unilever. It
has a number of consumer specialists and also boasts Nick Reid,
formerly a senior M&A adviser at UBS, where the Marmite and
Persil maker was a client. Reid is helped by David Krap, James
Tookman in the UK and Robert Pruzan in the US.
Morgan Stanley’s team consists of Henry Stewart, Mark
Rawlinson, Adrian Doyle and Anthony Zammit with Benjamin Frost
in the US. The firm has built a niche as a strong bid defence
specialist. HSBC has also advised Unilever on recent bond
issues, with Citigroup, Deutsche and Santander.
One name missing from the roster so far is Goldman Sachs,
last year’s lead M&A adviser by value of deals, according to
Thomson Reuters. This year it is in fifth position on announced
deals, with Morgan Stanley leading the table followed by
Citigroup, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Lazard.
After these announcements, Morgan Stanley would enhance its
lead significantly with Lazard firmly in second position,
followed by Deutsche, Centerview and UBS, pushing Goldman down
Unilever rejected the offer as too low.
Kraft Heinz said it would work to reach agreement on the
terms of a transaction.
A firm offer would need to be lodged on March 17 under UK
Takeover Code rules.
(Reporting by Christopher Spink; Editing by Steve Slater)