Kraft Heinz has announced it has dropped its plan to buy rival Unilever.
Unilever rejected Kraft Heinz’s bid on February 17, saying it saw “no merit, either financial or strategic” in Kraft’s offer, worth about $143 billion.
The consumer goods giants said in a joint statement: “Unilever and Kraft Heinz hold each other in high regard.”
The deal would have been one of the biggest in corporate history, combining dozens of household names.
Unilever owns Marmite, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Dove soap, and Hellmann’s mayonnaise, while Kraft’s range includes Philadelphia cheese and Heinz baked beans.
Shares in both companies rose sharply on February 17, as investors welcomed the news. A merger often aims to combine sales while cutting costs, flattering profits.
The combined group may have had more power to raise prices through a bigger share of the branded food market.
Unilever clashed with UK supermarket Tesco in October over its attempts to raise prices to compensate for the steep drop in the value of the pound.
If the deal had proceeded, it would be the second biggest ever, behind Vodafone’s $183 billion takeover of Germany’s Mannesmann in 2000, according to Dealogic.
Kraft’s offer was at an 18% premium to Unilever’s closing share price on February 16, Unilever said.
Unilever shares, however, rose just shy of that, by 13%. Kraft shares rose 11% on Wall Street.