Kraft Heinz, the consumer giant backed by Brazilian billionaire Jorge Lemann and Warren Buffett, has made an approach to combine forces with European peer Unilever.
Unilever rejected the approach, but Kraft Heinz said in a statement that it's looking forward "to working to reach agreement on the terms of a transaction." Unilever said in a statement it does not see a basis for any further discussions.
Unilever has a market capitalization of around £112 billion ($140 billion), while Kraft Heinz is worth around £85 billion ($106 billion) at the most recent estimate. That puts the value of a combined company at close to $250 billion.
Unilever has said the Kraft Heinz offer undervalues the company. Still, if a transaction were to go ahead, it would be one of the biggest in history — and a huge payday for Wall Street.
Lazard, a longtime adviser to 3G Capital, the Brazilian private-equity firm behind Kraft Heinz, is advising the bidder, while Morgan Stanley is advising Unilever. Lazard and Morgan Stanley faced off on the Anheuser-Busch InBev deal for SABMiller.
The deal also pits former colleagues against each other. Will Lawes, a former lawyer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, is working for Lazard and advising Kraft Heinz, while Mark Rawlinson, his former colleague at the law firm, is working for Morgan Stanley and advising Unilever.
Here are the bankers working on the deal:
Lazard — financial adviser to Kraft Heinz
Alex Hecker — Hecker is the lead consumer and retail investment banker at Lazard. He has a history of working with 3G Capital.
He worked on AB InBev's deal to buy SABMiller, and before that the InBev-Anheuser Busch deal in 2008. More recently, he worked on Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital's acquisition of Heinz.
William Rucker — Rucker is the head of Lazard in London and is known as one of UK's top advisers. He also worked on the AB InBev deal for SABMiller and has worked on recent transactions involving the UK companies Aldermore, Greene King, Quintain Estates, and Polyus Gold, according to filings. He often gets involved in cross-border deals with the firm's New York arm.
Will Lawes — Lawes just joined Lazard, starting at the firm on January 9 and coming from the law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, where he had been a senior partner. "His expertise will be of tremendous advantage not only to our clients, but also to our colleagues in London and globally," Rucker said at the time of his joining.
Centerview Partners — financial adviser to Unilever
Nick Reid — Reid joined the superboutique Centerview in London in 2014 from UBS and recently advised British American Tobacco on its deal for the stake it didn't already own in Reynolds American. At UBS, he headed the UK investment banking business and later headed the European business.
David Krap and James Tookman — Krap and Tookman are a part of an ex-UBS contingent at Centerview in London. Krap joined the firm in 2013, while Tookman joined a year later.
Robert Pruzan — Pruzan is based in New York and is a cofounder of Centerview. He has worked on over $500 billion worth of transactions over his career, according to the firm's website.
Morgan Stanley — financial adviser to Unilever
Henry Stewart — Stewart is Morgan Stanley's top dealmaker in the UK. He is a specialist in the consumer sector and advised SABMiller on its deal with AB InBev.
Mark Rawlinson — Rawlinson joined Morgan Stanley as chairman of the UK investment banking last year from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. As a lawyer, he worked on AB InBev's acquisition of SABMiller and BG Group's $50 billion sale to Royal Dutch Shell.
Adrian Doyle, Anthony Zammit, and Benjamin Frost — Doyle, Zammit, and Frost make up the rest of the Morgan Stanley team. Doyle's background is as an oil-and-gas banker, while Zammit is a junior banker in London. Frost, in New York, specializes in consumer mergers and acquisitions, and he worked on Suntory's $16 billion deal for US-based Beam.
UBS — financial adviser and corporate broker to Unilever
John Woolland — Woolland is an old-school British corporate broker. He recently worked on the deal between British American Tobacco and Reynolds American, in which BAT acquired the stake it didn't already own, alongside former colleague Nick Reid.
David Roberts and Alistair Smith — Roberts and Smith, two junior bankers, make up the rest of the UBS team.
Deutsche Bank — financial adviser and corporate broker to Unilever
Charles Wilkinson and Ben Lawrence — Wilkinson is an old-school corporate broker, like Woolland, who now chairs that business at Deutsche Bank. Lawrence worked on the AB InBev-SABMiller deal and has worked on deals involving Shire, BTG, DP World, and Hammerson.
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