Goya Foods’ board of directors voted against a sale that would have handed the company to BDT Capital Partners, reported New York Post (July 19).
Goya was valued at more than $4 billion in the proposed deal, which both parties had tentatively agreed to weeks ago. BDT Capital Partners saw potential to expand the brand and eventually take it public, according to people familiar with the matter.
The deal would have also required CEO Robert Unanue to step down within 18 months to make way for a new CEO, according to the sources. This comes on the heels of Unanue’s statement of support for President Trump when he agreed to appear at the White House rollout of what was called the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, an executive order that promised better access to education and employment for Hispanics, reported The New York Times (July 19).
On July 9, Unanue praised Trump, comparing him to his grandfather who founded Goya. This sparked calls for a boycott of Goya products from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other Latino leaders. Meanwhile, Trump supporters filled their shopping carts full of Goya products.
In fact, Goya sales spiked during the days after the White House meeting, but a source close to the family said the hashtags #BoycottGoya and #Goyaway have since gained traction and some members worry the brand could suffer in the long run.
Last week, Unanue followed instruction from two key shareholders and added two independent directors to the family-controlled board. After adding the independent directors, key shareholders switched their votes on BDT and the deal was scrapped, according to a source.
The company’s board also voted to let management decide how to handle the boycotts, giving Unanue its full backing, the source said.
Goya was previously in talks to sell a controlling stake to the Carlyle Group last fall in a deal that would have also replaced Unanue as CEO. However, Goya denied the sale talks at the time and changed its mind at the last minute, according to sources.
“This was supposed to be a control transaction…and the family apparently changed its position in the last couple of weeks,” Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein said in a Nov. 25, 2019 interview on Fox Business.
Currently, there are three factions of the Unanue family, each of which has three seats on the nine-member board. Robert Unanue became CEO in 2004 when his family teamed with the Frank Unanue Jr. family to push out longtime CEO Joseph Unanue, who led the third family faction.