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M&A, job cuts and grumpy investors -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – This illustration was taken January 17, 2022 and features the Unilever logo. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

(Reuters: Unilever, NYSE:), announced plans Tuesday to eliminate approximately 1,500 jobs from its management team in a major overhaul. This is in response to shareholder concerns following a failure in acquisitions and the news that an activist investor owned a share of the consumer goods company.

Magnum Ice Cream and Dove soap maker have had an uphill few years. Shares fell about 25% from their highs in 2019, with CEO Alan Jope facing criticism.

These are the key events that have occurred in Unilever over the last two months.

NOV. 18, 2021:

Unilever has agreed to sell its global tea company to CVC Capital Partners at 4.5 billion Euros ($5.1 billion). This concludes a two-year process that involved reviewing the business and spinning it off.

JAN. 15, 2022:

Unilever has confirmed that it has approached GlaxoSmithKline, (NYSE:), about purchasing its consumer goods company following reports in the media.

GSK stated later that Unilever’s proposal of $50 billion ($68.4 billion) was rejected by it, claiming the company “fundamentally underestimated” consumer healthcare.

GSK stated that Unilever had approached it three times on Dec. 20, and it contained 41.7 billion pounds of cash and 8.3 million shares.

JAN. 17

Unilever said it will pursue a deal to acquire GSK’s consumer businesses, calling them a “strong strategic match,” but its shares fell more than 8%. Unilever also stated that it will announce an initiative to improve its business later this month.

JAN. 19

Unilever stated that it wouldn’t raise the offer to GSK for its consumer healthcare business by more than 50 billion pounds late in the afternoon. Sources told Reuters that GSK wouldn’t engage with Unilever if the offer wasn’t sweetened.

JAN. 20

Unilever’s shares fell after it failed to secure GSK’s consumer assets. Terry Smith, an influential British fund manager, described the failure as “near death” and encouraged Unilever focus on improving its performance.

JAN. 23

A source told Reuters that activist investor Nelson Peltz’s hedge fund, Trian Partners, had built a stake of an unspecified size in Unilever, ratcheting up pressure on the company, months after Peltz stepped down from rival P&G’s board.

JAN. 24

Unilever’s shares rose 6.6% after Peltz reported that it had acquired a stake.

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Mike Robinson
Mike covers the financial, utilities and biotechnology sectors for Street Register. He has been writing about investment and personal finance topics for almost 12 years. Mike has an MBA in Finance from Wake Forest University.