Bidders for Unilever’s (LON:ULVR) spreads business are signing up some of the company’s former top executives to get an edge in the auction process, Sky News has revealed. The report comes as the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant looks to sell the underperforming division in an effort to unlock value for shareholders in the wake of Kraft Heinz’s failed bid earlier this year.
Unilever’s share price has been steady in today’s session, having added 0.89 percent to 4,397.00p as of 14:43 BST, slightly outperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index currently standing 0.39 percent higher at 7,496.55 points. The group’s shares have added just under a fifth to their value over the past year, and are up by more than a third in the year-to-date.
Sky News reported last night that bidders for Unilever’s spreads business were signing up some of Unilever’s former top executives to smooth a path to a £6-billion takeover of the division. Sean Gogarty, who quit as the unit’s chief executive in 2015, has reportedly agreed to work for a consortium comprising Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners ahead of a formal offer. A rival bidding group consisting of Bain Capital and Clayton Dubilier & Rice meanwhile is understood to have snapped up James Hill, a former Unilever troubleshooter whose roles included chairing the company’s Italian business and the Birds Eye Walls business it used to own.
Other bidders for the unit include the buyout firms Apollo Management and KKR. Unilever, however, could also opt to dispose of the spreads business through a demerger to its existing shareholders if offers are not sufficiently attractive.
The news comes after Unilever inked a deal to buy Brazilian natural and organic food business Mãe Terra this week, having recently also agreed to acquire British organic herbal tea business Pukka Herbs.