CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Wooster is a small Ohio town that was punched in the gut when Rubbermaid Corp. was bought in 1998 and the prized corporate headquarters went dark. Thousands of blue and white collar jobs were flushed. If there is any truth to the published rumor that (TheFlyOnTheWall) Procter & Gamble is making a bid for Newell Rubbermaid, the merger ceremony would have the flavor of a reunion. Rubbermaid returns to Ohio ownership (though not likely to Wooster), and some former top P&G execs restore their ties to Cincinnati. Newell Rubbermaid's CEO, Mark Ketchum, spent 33 years at P&G before retiring in 2004. Newell Rubbermaid's top marketing exec, Ted Woehrle, put in 24 years as a P&Ger before jumping to Newell in 2007. Both reached the apex of their P&G careers under retired CEO A.G. Lafley. And both rose through the ranks alongside P&G's current CEO, Bob McDonald.
Newell Rubbermaid is based in Atlanta. It still makes Rubbermaid branded items, along with Calphalon, Graco, Goody, Levelor, Sharpie and the tool brands Irwin and Lenox. P&G appears primed for an acquisition -- it's sitting on about $6.3 billion in cash and McDonald -- who moved into the CEO's office last July -- could be ready to pull the trigger on a big deal. Here's what TheFlyOnTheWall said last week: "It is believed that the boards of both companies met earlier, and Newell is looking for at least $21-22 per share."
At this point, Wall Street hasn't put much on the rumor. Newell Rubbermaid closed at $14.47 Friday; hardly a bump. Last month, P&G reportedly was ready to swallow Clorox Corp., a company it divested in 1969. That reunion hasn't happened. Clorox is filled with a lot of ex-P&Gers. Its CEO, Donald Knauss, began his career at P&G and, like McDonald, is an Indiana native. Executive VP Frank Tataseo spent 17 years at P&G, chief marketing officer Thomas Britanek 13 years and senior VP Benno Dorer 14 years.