Nestlé and PepsiCo: A $258 Billion Mega-Merger Miscarriage

20 July 2007

NEW YORK: It could have been the stuff of which investment bankers' dreams were made (assuming they sleep nights). A marriage made in Mammon with proud PepsiCo leading Nestlé up the aisle. But, alas, bride and groom never made it to the altar!

This jaw-dropping non-event was unveiled in Thursday's The Wall Street Journal, until which time it had been a secret better kept than Paris Hilton's membership of The Silver Ring Thing.

According to the WSJ, the initial approach was made by Pepsi in late spring this year. Had the deal been inked, it would have created a global food and beverages mammoth with a combined market capitalisation of $258 billion (€186.85bn; £125.65bn).

[A mega-merger certainly, but a microbe alongside the world's largest company, Citigroup, spawned in 1998 by the union of Citicorp and Travelers Group. Forbes Global 2000 lists it as the planet's largest company with total assets of $2.02 trillion.]

But, sadly, Nestlé's response to Pepsi's overtures was akin to that of England's Queen Elizabeth II towards US photographer Annie Leibowitz's suggestion that she remove her crown.

The Swiss-headquartered giant was reportedly snooty about Pepsi's reliance on high-fat snacks such as potato chips and sugary soft drinks, fearing that this could undermine the strategy of rebuilding its business around healthier food and beverages.

Whether the possibility of a marriage between the two titans is dead and buried is uncertain.

Neither is prepared to comment, although a Nestlé spokesman did raise his head above the parapet.

The company "has not been pursuing anything outside of our stated strategic acquisition interests, which are in the area of nutrition," he revealed.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online. additional content by WARC staff