Skip to Content

Warren Buffett’s Analogy for Kraft’s Failed Unilever Takeover Is Cringeworthy

"Becoming Warren Buffett" World Premiere - Red Carpet"Becoming Warren Buffett" World Premiere - Red Carpet
Warren Buffett attends the "Becoming Warren Buffett" World Premiere at The Museum of Modern Art on January 19, 2017 in New York City. J. Kempin—Getty Images

Earlier this month, Unilever (UL) rejected a $143 billion takeover offer from Kraft Heinz, which would have been one of the largest deals in corporate history. Then, rather than return with a higher offer, Kraft Heinzamicably agreed to withdraw its proposal for a combination of the two companies.”

Now investor Warren Buffett, who backs Kraft Heinz (KHC), has spoken out about the surprising turn of events using a strange analogy to explain how the failed takeover attempt unfolded. During an interview on CNBC on Feb. 27, Buffett told host Becky Quick that the situation reminded him of “that old story about the difference between a diplomat and a lady.” He continued, according to a transcript from CNBC:

Well, if a diplomat says yes, he means maybe. If he says maybe, he means no. And if he says no, he’s no diplomat. And if a lady says no, she means maybe. And if she says maybe, she means yes. And if she says yes, she’s no lady. So [Kraft Heinz Chairman Alex Behring] probably got a maybe and didn’t know whether it was coming from a diplomat or a lady, essentially. I mean, that’s what frequently people get.

The widely admired Oracle of Omaha largely got a pass on social media, but during a news cycle dominated by the Uber harassment allegations, his comments did get some pushback.

In the same interview, Buffett also explained why he bought 72 million shares of Apple (AAPL) in January.