Duracell: In-house, agency teams to stay in-tact post-Buffett buy

The battery brand is using town halls, conference calls, and in-person meetings to reassure employees, as well as reaching out to external stakeholders, after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway said it will buy Duracell for $3 billion.

Duracell's Rugged Responder vehicle
Duracell's Rugged Responder vehicle

BETHEL, CT: Duracell does not expect any changes to its in-house comms team or PR agency relationships after its planned $3 billion acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway.

The communications team will not be affected by the acquisition, and Duracell foresees no changes with its agency partnerships, such as its relationship with PR AOR Citizen Relations, said Win Sakdinan, associate director of communications and social media at Procter & Gamble.

Duracell is telling stakeholders that its acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway is an "exciting change" for its brand and its employees.

Berkshire confirmed on Thursday that it will buy the battery company from Procter & Gamble in a deal worth about $3 billion. P&G said last month that it planned to spin off Duracell into a separate company, leaving the door open for a sale to the right buyer.

"We are being acquired by the world’s most iconic investor [in Berkshire CEO] Warren Buffett and joining one of the most admired corporations in the world," Sakdinan told PRWeek via email. Berkshire's stable of more than 80 businesses includes Benjamin Moore paints, the Dairy Queen ice cream chain, and Heinz.

He added that Duracell, which will retain its global headquarters in Bethel, Connecticut, will continue to grow its brand based on its strategy of "iconic brand building, in-store excellence, and product innovation."

"We will continue to establish Duracell as a standalone business, as this will be important for operation within the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio," Buffet said in a statement.

Internally, Duracell has started a proactive global communications initiative aimed at staffers around the world, including in-person town-hall meetings, webcasts, and conference calls, said Sakdinan.

Externally, the company is focused on proactively reaching out to stakeholders such as retailers, agency partners, and the media, and conducting government relations, he explained.

In a statement issued on Thursday, P&G CEO AG Lafley thanked Duracell employees for their contributions to the CPG giant.

"I’m confident this new ownership structure will provide strong support for Duracell’s future growth plans," he said.

The deal has its roots in Buffett’s 1989 $600 million investment in Gillette. When P&G bought the razor company in 2005, Berkshire’s shares were converted into P&G stock.

Buffett noted in a statement that as a consumer and as a long-term investor in P&G, he has always been impressed by the battery line.

"Duracell is a leading global brand with top-quality products, and it will fit well within Berkshire Hathaway," he added.

Berkshire’s acquisition of Duracell, which will likely save P&G a significant amount in taxes, is expected to close in the second half of 2015. A rep from Berkshire Hathaway was not immediately available for comment.

Berkshire partnered with 3G Capital to buy Heinz last summer and helped to finance Burger King’s planned purchase of Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons, which would move the burger chain’s corporate headquarters to Canada from the US.

In August, P&G said it plans to shed 90 of its smaller, less popular brands, leaving it with a portfolio of 70 to 80.

"We are going to focus on the 70 to 80 brands that account for about 90% of our revenues and 95% of our profit," another P&G spokesperson told PRWeek via email at the time.

Over the last several quarters, P&G has divested, discontinued, or made decisions to consolidate about 25 brands.

"As we focus on a more strategic brand portfolio, we’ll streamline our organization," said the spokesperson. "As we go through this transition, we will, of course, treat every individual with the respect, care, and dignity they deserve — following our purpose, values, and principles, as we always do."

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