KKR co-CEOs Henry Kravis and George Roberts are the proud new owners of three popular margarine brands: Country Crock, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, and Imperial. The global investment firm they co-founded recently purchased Unilever’s margarine and spreads business for a hefty $8.06 billion.
Unilever is an Anglo-Dutch company that manufactures food, beverages, cleaning products, and personal care items. KKR’s acquisition of their margarine and spreads business, which was signed last month, was deemed Europe’s largest leveraged buyout for the year 2017.
Unilever CEO Paul Polman decided to sell the unit after disappointing October sales stalled the company’s ascending stock prices. Experts attributed the decrease in sales to a shifting consumer market that is demanding healthier alternatives. Armed with this information, Polman decided to abandon the margarine and spreads business and instead focus on the company’s faster-growing brands, like Pukka Herbs tea and Sir Kensington’s condiments.
“I am confident that under KKR’s ownership, the spreads business, with its iconic brands, will be able to fulfill its full potential as well as societal responsibilities,” said Polman.
According to sources familiar with the matter, KKR beat out competition from fellow rivals Apollo Group Management and CVC Capital Partners. However, neither CVC nor Apollo have confirmed these allegations.
As for KKR, the firm couldn’t be happier with their purchase.
“The strength of the portfolio of consumer brands in [the] spreads provides a firm foundation for future growth,” Johannes Huth, head of KKR’s European business, told The New York Post. “We look forward to deploying our global network and operational expertise to support the business’s growth ambitions, while continuing to follow Unilever’s responsible sourcing policies, including working towards the goal of sourcing 100 per cent sustainable palm oil by 2019.”
Looks like the margarine sector is about to get a whole lot healthier… and profitable.