Duracell, the maker of gold and black batteries made famous by its bunny adverts, has been snapped up by billionaire US investor Warren Buffett.
In a deal worth about $3 billion (£1.9bn), Buffett’s fund vehicle Berkshire Hathaway has agreed to buy Duracell from consumer products giant Procter & Gamble, which has owned the brand since 2005.
Berkshire has been a significant P&G shareholder since the consumer products firm acquired Gillette in 2005 and will pay for the business by returning shares worth $4.7bn to P&G.
Buffett, one of the world’s most famous investors, dubbed the Sage of Omaha, said: “I have always been impressed by Duracell, as a consumer and as a long-term investor in P&G and Gillette.
“Duracell is a leading global brand with top quality products, and it will fit well within Berkshire Hathaway.”
P&G, which owns brands such as Pampers, Bold and Head & Shoulders, announced last month it was to exit the battery business.
The distinctive battery brand employs some 2,700 people globally and has annual sales of £2.2bn. Key offices and plants of the group, which has its headquarters in Connecticut, include sites in Geneva, Singapore and Tennessee. It has no UK factories but does run a sales department.
P&G sold its joint venture stake in another battery plant in China last week, but said it has no plans to make any cuts to the Duracell business before handing it over to Berkshire Hathaway.
It has also agreed to spend $1.8bn to recapitalise Duracell before transferring ownership. The consumer giant said it expects to close the deal in the second half of next year.
The Duracell battery was invented in 1964 by US scientist Samuel Ruben and manufacturer Philip Rogers Mallory to take advantage of the demand for longer-lasting batteries that could be used in cameras.
Sanford Bernstein analyst Ali Dibadj said: “It is a good thing that P&G is moving swiftly to divest its non-core brands.”
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