Meet the bankers working on a potential nearly $250 billion mega-merger

Kraft Heinz, the consumer giant backed by Brazilian billionaire Jorge Lehmann and Warren Buffett, has made an approach to combine forces with European peer Unilever.

Unilever has rejected the approach, but Kraft said in a statement that is is looking “forward to working to reach agreement on the terms of a transaction.” Unilever said in a statement it does not see the basis for any further discussions.

Unilever has a market capitalisation of around £112 billion ($US139 billion), while Kraft Heinz is worth around £85 billion ($US106 billion) at the most recent estimate. That puts the value of a combined company at close to $US250 billion.

Unilever has expressed its opposition to a deal, saying the Kraft Heinz offer undervalues the company. Still, if a transaction were to go ahead, it would be one of the biggest in history, and a huge payday for Wall Street.

Lazard, a long time adviser to 3G Capital, the private equity firm behind Kraft Heinz, is advising the bidder, while Morgan Stanley is advising Unilever. Those two firms faced off on the AB InBev deal for SAB Miller.

The deal also pits former colleagues against each other. Will Lawes, a former lawyer at Freshfelds Bruckhaus Deringer, is working for Lazard and advising Kraft Heinz, while Mark Rawlinson, his former colleague at the law firm, is working for Morgan Stanley advising Unilever.

Here are the bankers working on the deal:

Kraft Heinz

Lazard – Financial Adviser to Kraft Heinz

Alex Hecker – Hecker is the lead consumer and retail investment banker at Lazard, and has a history of working with 3G Capital, the Brazilian private equity giant behind AB InBev and Kraft Heinz.

He worked on Anheuser-Busch InBev’s deal to buy SABMiller, and before that the InBev-Anheuser Busch deal in 2008 in addition to the more recent Warren Buffett-3G Capital acquisition of Heinz.

William Rucker – Rucker is the head of Lazard in London, and is known as one of UK’s top advisers. He also worked on the AB InBev deal for SAB Miller, and has also worked on recent transactions involving UK companies Aldermore, Greene King, Quintain Estates, and Polyus Gold, according to filings. He often gets involved in cross-border deals with the firm’s New York arm.

Blair EffronScreenshot/CNBCCenterview cofounder Blair Effron

Will Lawes – Lawes only just joined Lazard, having started at the firm January 9 coming from law firm
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, where he had been senior partner. “His expertise will be of tremendous advantage not only to our clients, but also to our colleagues in London and globally,” Rucker said at the time of his joining.


Centerview Partners – Financial Adviser to Unilever

Nick Reid – Reid joined superboutique Centerview in London from UBS in 2014, and recently advised British American Tobacco on its deal for the stake it didn’t already own in Reynolds American. At UBS, he headed the UK investment banking business, and later coheaded the European business.

David Krap and James Tookman – Krap and Tookman are a part of an ex-UBS contingent at Centerview in London. Krap joined the firm in 2013, while Tookman joined a year later.

Robert Pruzan – Pruzan is based in New York and is a cofounder of Centerview. He has worked on over $US500 billion of transactions over his career, according to the firm’s website.

Morgan Stanley – Financial Adviser to Unilever

Henry Stewart – Stewart is Morgan Stanley’s top dealmaker in the UK. He is a specialist in the consumer sector, and advised SABMiller on its deal with AB InBev.

Mark Rawlinson – Rawlinson joined Morgan Stanley as chairman of the UK investment banking last year from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. As a lawyer, he worked on AB Inbev’s acquisition of SABMiller and BG Group’s £47 billion sale to Royal Dutch Shell.
Adrian Doyle, Anthony Zammit, and Benjamin Frost – Doyle, Zammit, and Frost make up the rest of the Morgan Stanley team. Doyle is an oil and gas banker by background, while Zammit is a junior banker in London. Frost is a consumer M&A specialist in New York, and worked on Suntory’s $US16 billion deal for

US-based Beam.

UBS – Financial Adviser & Corporate Broker to Unilever

John Woolland – Woolland is an old-school British corporate broker. He recently worked on the deal between British American Tobacco and Reynolds American, where BAT acquired the stake it didn’t already own, alongside former colleague Nick Reid.

David Roberts and Alistair Smith – Roberts and Smith, two junior bankers, make up the rest of the UBS team.

Deutsche Bank – Financial Adviser & Corporate Broker to Unilever

Charles Wilkinson and Ben Lawrence – Wilkinson, like Woolland, is an old-school corporate broker who now chairs that business at Deutsche Bank. Lawrence also worked on the AB Inbev-SAB Miller deal, and has previously worked on deals involving Shire, BTG, DP World, and Hammerson.

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