Cadbury plot thickens

Nestle is the latest contender in the battle for control of Cadbury, which has also attracted America's Hershey and Ferrero of Italy, reports Times Online. Nestle, which has its headquarters on the shores of Lake Geneva and which employs 283,000 people globally, reported sales of SwFr109.9 billion (£65 billion) last year and profits of SwFr18 billion.

 

Hershey had been considering a joint bid with Ferrero, and  Italian newspapers said Hershey executives planned to travel to Italy to meet Ferrero executives. However, Hershey, which is controlled by the Hershey Charitable Trust and has a deal with Cadbury to make and distribute some of its brands in the U.S., might prepare a solo bid, of $10 billion (£6 billion) cash plus $2 billion of new Hershey shares and $3 billion to $5 billion in cash from investors in exchange for equity in Hershey.

 

Cadbury's Chairman Roger Carr indicated a straight merger with Hershey would be preferable to a deal with Kraft. He believes a deal with Hershey would deliver better value for its shareholders because both groups are focused on confectionery, while Kraft produces a variety of processed foods.

Meanwhile, Kraft Foods seems to be willing to raise its bid or sweeten it for Cadbury  if a rival offer emerges, and is expected to send details of its bid to Cadbury shareholders soon.

Nestlé may yet decide not to bid. It has said  it does not plan any big acquisitions this year or next, but will focus on "tuck in" acquisitions. Then again, it seems like a perfect deal for the Swiss giant.