Gillette purchase of Duracell OK'd Shareholders approve fitting battery firm into shaving empire

December 31, 1996|By BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS

BOSTON -- Gillette Co. and Duracell International Inc. shareholders approved Gillette's purchase of the battery maker yesterday for about $7.82 billion in stock and debt.

The transaction is set to be completed at the close of business tomorrow. Duracell shareholders will get 0.904 of a Gillette share for each Duracell share they hold.

The purchase adds Bethel, Conn.-based Duracell's copper-top batteries to Boston-based Gillette's line of consumer products, which includes Braun shavers, Parker pens and Right Guard deodorant.

Gillette stockholders said the combination of Gillette's worldwide selling prowess and Duracell's alkaline batteries would mean growth for the new, larger Gillette.

"I would expect Gillette's growth rate to be enhanced somewhat from the acquisition, by taking Duracell products into markets Duracell is not in now," said Charles Gammal, a shareholder from Worcester, Mass.

Less than half of Duracell's sales are overseas, compared with 70 percent for Gillette.

Gillette shareholders approved the purchase during a Boston meeting that lasted just minutes. About 70 percent of all shareholders and 99 percent of those who voted approved the transaction.

Duracell shareholders approved the transaction during a morning meeting in Danbury, Conn.. About 78 percent of all shareholders and 99.4 percent of those voting approved selling the company.

Duracell stock rose $1 to $68.375 yesterday. Gillette stock rose $1.25 to $75.625.

Gillette officials said they expect $80 million to $120 million in savings from the transaction, mainly from eliminating overlapping operations. While some of those savings will be the result of firings, Gillette President Michael Hawley said he did not yet know how many jobs would be cut.

Hawley said he expected that Duracell's headquarters in Bethel will remain open.

"We are delighted," Hawley said. "It's been very smooth. We will set forth with the new year."

Though Gillette shareholders overwhelmingly approved the transaction, some did grumble that the $30 million fees paid to investment bankers Morgan Stanley & Co. and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. were too high.

The fee issue was first raised last month by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who is a director and a major investor in Gillette. Gillette's board of directors approved the fees over Buffett's objections.

"I think the investment banking fees paid by Gillette relative to this demonstrates an unconscionable waste of shareholder money," Gammal said.

Pub Date: 12/31/96

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