UK PM May orders officials to examine Kraft Heinz bid for Unilever: FT

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LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May has asked top officials to examine U.S. food company Kraft Heinz's KHC.O proposed takeover of Unilever Plc ULVR.L, the Financial Times reported on Sunday without citing any sources.

Kraft’s surprise $143 billion offer, which would be the largest ever acquisition of a UK-based company, was flatly rejected by Unilever on Friday.

The Financial Times said May had ordered officials to see if the proposed deal raised any concerns for the wider British economy and merits government intervention.

May’s office declined to comment on the report.

The newspaper said the prime minister’s team had held talks with both Unilever and Kraft Heinz to see what the implications of its plans are for jobs, research and development, as well as for Unilver’s headquarters and operations in Britain.

Detailed work will be led by Alex Chisholm, a top official in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who will seek assurances from Kraft Heinz on its strategy, the newspaper reported.

During her leadership campaign last year, May criticized Kraft’s 2010 takeover of British chocolate maker Cadbury, following which it reneged on an earlier promise to keep a factory in southwest England open.

May said then that while the government should not automatically stop the sale of British firms to foreign ones, it should be able to step in and defend important sectors.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan