Unilever (LON:ULVR) is looking to buy FTSE 100 peer Reckitt Benckiser’s (LON:RB) food business, The Sunday Times has reported. The owner of Marmite is reportedly locked in a £2-billion battle with the American owner of Spam over the operation.
Unilever’s share price has climbed marginally higher in London this morning and as of 09:31 BST stood 0.12 percent higher at 4,268.50p, as compared with a 0.44-percent gain in the benchmark FTSE 100 index. Reckitt Benckiser’s share price is also 0.12 percent better off at 7,753.00p.
The Sunday Times reported yesterday that Unilever was one of several companies to have tabled a bid for Reckitt Benckiser’s food business. Unilever faces strong competition from Hormel Foods, the company which owns Spam, the canned meat brand, with other companies, including McCormick & Co, the owner of Schwartz spices, and Pinnacle Foods, owner of Birds Eye also expected to enter the race. Sources told the newspaper that fierce competition in the auction is expected to drive the takeover price to beyond £2.2 billion.
For Reckitt Benckiser, the sale will follow the company’s takeover of baby food maker Mead Johnson earlier this year. At Unilever, a potential acquisition of the food operation would mark the group’s first big deal following Kraft Heinz’s failed £115-billion takeover bid in February. The Marmite owner has since unveiled a €5-billion share buyback programme and has pledged to sell its margarine and spreads division.
As of July 14, the consensus forecast amongst 20 polled investment analysts covering Unilever for the Financial Times has it that the company will outperform the market. The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant is scheduled to update investors on its second-quarter performance on Thursday.