FREMONT, Mich. -- Retailers are not likely to see changes in service or product strategy from Gerber Products Co. here, if, as planned, the baby-food maker is acquired by Sandoz, Basel, Switzerland.
Sandoz, a pharmaceuticals and chemicals giant, said earlier this month that it would purchase all of Gerber's issued and outstanding shares of common stock.
Industry analysts told SN that the acquisition was designed to strengthen and expand the international child nutrition business for both companies. Its impact on the domestic market, at least for the near future, would be less of an issue.
Nancy Linder, Gerber's manager of public relations, said, "We don't anticipate that anything will change. Things are amazingly the same. I assume, at some point in the future, when [Sandoz has settled in] there would be changes. But for right now, things are status quo."
Alfred Piergallini, Gerber's chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement, "This transaction is in the best interest of our customers and associates."
Sandoz won't be able to complete its acquisition until it receives approval from the Superintendent of Insurance of New York, due to Gerber's ownership of Gerber Life Insurance Co., said Linder. "In addition, Sandoz has to acquire 51% of the stock," she said. The parties expect to close the tender offer in three to six months.
David Rabinowitz, an analyst with Kidder Peabody, said domestic supermarkets won't see any impact on their operations from a Gerber under new ownership.
"Sandoz will probably follow what is a fairly typical pattern when one big company buys another big company, and that is to leave things be for a while," he said.
"I suspect Sandoz is going to want to put their imprints on the Gerber operation at some point. But I don't know to what extent that will be evident to anybody outside of the company, and at what point in time that will happen," said Rabinowitz.
Roger Spencer, an analyst with PaineWebber, concurred. "I think it will be business as usual. Sandoz wants Gerber management to stay.
"I can't imagine anybody from Switzerland wanting to come over here and try to run [Gerber] better than it's being run. It's very unlikely this will affect supermarkets," Spencer said.