February 28, 2017

Unilever, Kraft Heinz and swimming with sharks

It took only 48 hours for Unilever to fight off a USD 143 billion Kraft Heinz takeover bid; the shock waves will reverberate far longer at Unilever and beyond. By using Kraft Heinz as the vehicle to swallow whole a far larger company, private equity investors 3G Capital - the driving force at Kraft Heinz, AB InBev and Burger King - have again demonstrated the scale of their imprint on the food industry and 'fast-moving consumer goods' sector as a whole.

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September 12, 2014

Burger King's debt whopper is a public subsidy to fast food poverty

Thousands of fast food workers across the US again walked off the job and engaged in civil disobedience actions on September 4, pushing low-wage work and the need for an increase in the national minimum wage further up the political agenda. Shortly before, announcement of a proposed merger between US-based Burger King and Canada's Tim Hortons "fast-casual" sent both companies' shares into the stratosphere. What's the connection?

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March 14, 2014

Heinz, Mondelez and the private equity effect

Private equity dominated the February Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) conference, even without a formal presence - a measure of the extent to which the buyout funds' operational methods have permeated the food industry. While leveraged buyouts have not yet recovered their pre-2008 scale or volume, the big buyout houses emerged from the meltdown bigger than ever as complex financial conglomerates for whom pillaging companies is only part of the business of buying and trading everything. But private equity is not a closed universe. The funds' substantial footprint in the processed food industry, as elsewhere, has brought into the mainstream the financial engineering and aggressive cost-cutting developed through decades of leveraged buyouts.

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