NEW YORK (CNNfn) - BestFoods announced Tuesday it rejected an unsolicited $18.4 billion bid from European consumer products giant Unilever because the terms were "inadequate."|
BestFoods said in a statement the offer by Unilever (UN: Research, Estimates), which recently completed acquisitions of Slim-Fast and Ben & Jerry's, was not in the best interest of shareholders given the company's successful business strategies and growth prospects. BestFoods (BFO: Research, Estimates), whose brands include Hellmann's mayonnaise and Skippy peanut butter, had sales of $8.6 billion in 1999.
Unilever first approached BestFoods with an offer of $61 to $64 per share, then upped that offer to $66.
"It is not opportune to consider a sale of the company," BestFoods Chairman C.R. Shoemate said in a statement. BestFoods, which was in merger talks last September with H.J. Heinz Co. (HNZ: Research, Estimates) that collapsed, told Unilever it is not "opportune to consider a sale of the company."
One industry analyst said that with BestFoods' long-term track record in mind, the two would make a good fit.
"BestFoods is one the best-positioned food companies based in the United States by virtue of its international presence," said John O'Neil, an analyst at PaineWebber.
"By virtue of its international presence, it would complement Unilever's international breadth," he said, adding that BestFoods derives 65 percent of its business outside the United States, and about a third from fast-growing emerging markets.
Shares of Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based BestFoods closed down 3/4 to 50-9/16 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has trended up toward its year-high of 60, reached last November. The stock's 52-week low is 35-3/4.
The Unilever offer for BestFoods comes amid a flurry of bids this week by European companies seeking to buy U.S. companies.
-- from staff and wire reports