Kraft Heinz bid for Unilever buckles

The $143bn deal will not happen

Kraft Heinz bid for Unilever buckles

David Parry PA Archive/PA Images

US food company Kraft Heinz has walked away from a $143bn merger deal with Unilever after details of the bid were made public last week.

The takeover would have created the world's second largest consumer goods group, after Nestle.

Warren Buffet, Kraft Heinz shareholder

"Interest was made public at an extremely early stage. Our intention was to proceed on a friendly basis, but it was made clear Unilever did not wish to pursue a transaction," Kraft Heinz said in a statement.

"It is best to step away early so both companies can focus on their own independent plans to generate value. We remain focused on driving long-term value while always putting our consumers first," the group continued.

The Financial Times reports that the decision was made by Warren Buffett and Jorge Paulo Lemann - Kraft Heinz largest shareholders - as a public battle to take control of the company would have been damaging for its brand.

These parties had begun talking to UK Government officials, Theresa May is reported to have asked officials to examine whether the state should have intervened if the deal came to fruition.

This represents a victory for Unilever CEO Paul Polman - a deal is likely to have resulted in aggressive cost cutting, while his current management has been putting resources into sustainability projects.

While the initial bid was not large enough to excite Unilever - Kraft Heinz was reported to have been prepared to come back with an improved offer.