Nestlé S.A. has agreed to pay $7.15 billion to sell coffee with the Starbucks brand, according to Bloomberg. The third-largest acquisition in Nestle’s 152-year history constitutes upfront payment for marketing licenses and does not include any physical assets.
The Swiss food giant, which has its U.S. headquarters in Glendale, is banking on Starbucks’ brand recognition promoted by 28,000 outlets globally, to fill the gap created by its own flagging java products, namely Nespresso and Dolce Gusto.
“Nestlé needed a big brand, and they needed one fast,” said Alain Oberhuber, analyst at MainFirst Bank in Zurich. “Starbucks is the only strong brand in roast-and-ground. It’s a rather defensive move -- a bit late -- but nevertheless, a strategically absolutely vital step.”
Andrew Wood, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, observed that Chief Executive Mark Schneider’s agreement to pay 3.6 times sales in the transaction is higher than the average of 3 times for major global food deals.
Starbucks, worth $44 billion and ranked the second-most-valuable brand in fast food in BrandZ’s Global 2017 report, intends to use the proceeds for stock buybacks.
Nestle has announced it is moving its U.S. headquarters to Virginia and plans to complete the move by July 6.