Unilever plc (UL) - Get Unilever PLC Sponsored ADR Report shares fell sharply at the open of trading Monday after Kraft Heinz Co. (KHC) - Get Kraft Heinz Company (KHC) Reportwithdrew its bid for the consumer products company, but remained firmly above the price traded prior to the $143 billion bid made late last week.
Kraft Heinz issued a joint statement with the Anglo Dutch company Sunday that said the pair had "amicably agreed to withdraw its proposal for a combination of the two companies." That followed a firm rejection of the $50 per share cash and share bid put forward Friday.
"Unilever and Kraft Heinz hold each other in high regard. Kraft Heinz has the utmost respect for the culture, strategy and leadership of Unilever," the statement said.
"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," Kraft added.
Unilever shares were marked 9% lower in early London trading to change hands at 3,458 pence each, retreating from the all-time high the stock breached on Friday. However, the stock is still trading around 3% higher than its Thursday closing price of 3,348 pence, suggesting investors might still be pricing in a rival approach for the London-based group.
Under U.K. takeover rules Kraft Heinz would not be able to make a second bid for the company for at least six months. In fact, the Financial Times reported that Kraft Heinz executives were unsettled by some of the early reaction from British politicians, who have been concerned that the steep decline in the pound since the company voted to leave the European Union last June has left many U.K. companies vulnerable to foreign takeovers.