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Missed Connections: Huge Mergers That Didn't Pan Out in 2017

By Motley Fool Staff - Dec 24, 2017 at 8:41AM

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A year of busy M&A activity also saw rejected bids and unfruitful merger negotiations.

In this 2017 year in review, the Motley Fool Industry Focus team covers several prominent corporate marriages in the consumer and retail world that looked so promising but fell apart before reaching the altar.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Dec. 19, 2017.

Vincent Shen: Asit, we've been talking a lot about consolidation in consumer and retail. A lot of the big developments we covered were M&A deals. But obviously, not all deals talks ended up in agreement. What was a more notable one for you that was a missed connection from the past year?

Asit Sharma: I think for me, Mattel (MAT -1.53%) rejecting Hasbro's (HAS -1.70%) offer to merge. Now, you and I just talked about this recently on the show. Our thought together was, this would be a great deal for both companies. Hasbro, the stronger player, which is really selling through the internet online channels very vigorously, and then Mattel is an older-school point-of-sale company which had gotten into trouble with this retail apocalypse that's been occurring over the last year. Interestingly enough, back to antitrust, the reason that Mattel has rejected this preliminary offer is, it's concerned that the FTC could say there's too much of a monopoly here. Although the combined company would still have a lot of competition from domestic and global players, they do occupy the two top spots in the U.S.

However, I was surprised. I think, to me, that Mattel needs Hasbro. I think Mattel is going to have a very hard holiday season. They're still managing inventory problems related to the Toys R Us bankruptcy, and I'm questioning if this is a good move. Investing takeaway, investors, year to date, Hasbro's stock is up 17%. Mattel's stock is down 45%. Be careful about jumping in as a value play in Mattel. What do you think?

Shen: I'm going to jump to two more deals because we're running out of time here. They're big ones that I want to mention. Kraft Heinz (KHC -2.41%) and Unilever (UL -1.46%), again, another one that we've mentioned briefly on a recent episode. In February, Warren Buffett, 3G Capital, behind Kraft Heinz, they unveiled their next big step for the company's growth, and that was with a $150 billion bid for Unilever. Unilever rejected that deal promptly, and Kraft Heinz actually withdrew its offer the next day, not intending to execute any type of hostile takeover. We provided a more in-depth update of Kraft Heinz on Industry Focus a few weeks ago, in terms of how the company is searching for its next growth avenue. You guys can jump to that episode.

Then, T-Mobile (TMUS -2.57%) and Sprint (S) had merger attempts fall through in 2014. Those companies were rumored to be discussing a deal again in 2017. But they officially announced an end to those talks in early November. The regulatory environment under Trump may have been more friendly to this deal, but the sticking point this time was control. SoftBank, which is the key shareholder at Sprint, did not want to relinquish too much control of the combined entity, considering T-Mobile's Legere was already slated to take over as CEO.

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Stocks Mentioned

Unilever PLC Stock Quote
Unilever PLC
$45.33 (-1.46%) $0.67
Sprint Corporation Stock Quote
Sprint Corporation
T-Mobile US, Inc. Stock Quote
T-Mobile US, Inc.
$133.03 (-2.57%) $-3.51
Hasbro, Inc. Stock Quote
Hasbro, Inc.
$84.19 (-1.70%) $-1.46
Mattel, Inc. Stock Quote
Mattel, Inc.
$23.22 (-1.53%) $0.36
Kraft Heinz Intermediate Corporation II Stock Quote
Kraft Heinz Intermediate Corporation II
$37.73 (-2.41%) $0.93

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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