USFood – Sysco Possible Round Number Two
Foodfhonebook searches the internet for information relevant to the food service industry, especially for our chefs and restaurant owners. We found this article from Bloomberg.com regarding the UsFood-Sysco take over. In short the article states with the new President Elect Donald Trump. The failed acquisition attempt could possibly have a chance to move forward under the new administration.
As merger activity crescendoed in recent years, U.S. antitrust regulators under President Obama developed a reputation for taking a hard line, especially regarding the biggest transactions.
Just this year, they shot down mergers between Staples Inc. and Office Depot Inc. as well as Halliburton Co. and Baker Hughes Inc., and are in the process of trying to block two giant health insurance deals. But once Donald Trump assumes office and his Republican administration takes over, there could be a change in tone — so much so that in some cases, it may be worth it for companies to try again.
The would-be merger that arguably has the best chance of a revival is Sysco Corp.’s acquisition of US Foods Holding Corp., which was terminated last year after failing to receive approval from the Federal Trade Commission.
What’s crucial is that deal nearly gained the green light: it was voted down 3-2 along party lines (with Democrats in the majority). At the time, Joshua Wright, a Republican and one of the two FTC commissioners who was willing to let the deal through, took to Twitter to share his thoughts:
Last month, Wright penned a New York Times op-ed and wrote that “a high level of concentration in an industry simply does not mean the industry lacks competition. Concentration and competition are distinct concepts.” As part of Trump’s transition team, he’s in a position to recommend a new FTC commissioner and chairman, and it’s fair to expect his picks will also have an open mind when it comes to consolidation.
That’s good news for Sysco and US Foods. An FTC with a Republican tilt may be more willing to accept Sysco’s argument that the competition faced by the duo is fierce and that the “overwhelming majority” of restaurants and food operators choose local food-service distributors rather than those with nationwide capabilities.
Even though US Foods’s value has climbed since the original transaction, Sysco’s has risen too, with the $30 billion company’s shares hitting an all-time high on Friday. A deal still makes strategic sense, especially if the benefits of scale, improved productivity and enhanced product offerings can propel the combine company toward targeted annual cost savings of at least $600 million (within four years) as previously projected. Assuming those synergies, and if Sysco funds roughly 15 percent of the transaction with cash and is willing to pay a 30 percent premium, a deal would be 22 percent accretive, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Another reason for hope of a tie-up between the two food-distribution companies is that KKR & Co. and Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC, which each own 37.8 percent of US Foods, are yet to sell any shares. The company’s private equity owners didn’t sell any of their holdings as part of the IPO, nor have they sold any since their lockup agreement ended last month and would be motivated sellers at a premium.
In the end, if a second attempt to combine Sysco and US Foods is more successful than the first, other once-dead deals may be resuscitated. Who’s up for Staples and Office Depot, round two?
Gillian Tan is a Bloomberg Gadfly columnist covering deals and private equity. She previously was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. She is a qualified chartered accountant.