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California | BRIEFLY / FOOD

Bestfoods Says It Rejected Unilever Bid

May 03, 2000|Reuters

Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer products giant that reached deals to acquire SlimFast Foods Co. and Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc. last month, also made an unsolicited $18.41-billion cash bid for Bestfoods, the maker of Hellmann's mayonnaise and Skippy peanut butter disclosed. Bestfoods said in a letter to Unilever executives that after reviewing the proposal, its board rejected the offer as "financially inadequate" and not in the best interests of shareholders. Unilever approached the company on April 20 with a $61- to $64-per-share cash offer, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based Bestfoods said. Unilever then sweetened the bid to $66 per share on May 1, marking the fourth takeover bid of an American company by a European concern this week. But Bestfoods, which had been in merger talks last September with H.J. Heinz Co. that collapsed, told Unilever it is not "opportune to consider a sale of the company." Unilever agreed to pay a total of about $2.6 billion for SlimFast and Ben & Jerry's last month. Shares of Bestfoods closed at $50.56, off 75 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange.

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