Heinz stalked by Unilever?

01 June 1997

SPECULATION is growing on Wall Street that the Anglo-Dutch fmcg giant is set to make a full-scale bid for Heinz, the US-owned beans-to-baby foods group. Unilever, said to be in shop-till-you-drop mode having built a £10bn war chest following the sale of its chemicals business to ICI in April, wants to expand its range of global products, especially in emerging markets. 'They can certainly afford to take Heinz', opined one New York analyst, adding that there are 'very obvious synergies in marketing, advertising and promotion worldwide.' Fuelled by bid rumours, Heinz’ share price has soared by 10% in the past month and, over the last fortnight, daily share-trading has increased by an average of over 50%. Heinz has just announced a loss of $229.6m for its fiscal fourth quarter and is in the early throes of a global $1.5bn restructuring programme.