Cadbury saga takes new twist

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 18th November 2009

The rumour mill over Cadbury was in overdrive overnight, with reports of merger talks and the possibility of a new bidder entering the fray.

Ever since Kraft announced their non-binding offer for Cadbury in September there has been speculation of interest from Hershey. And, while talk of a potential purchase with the help of Nestlé have been dismissed by the Swiss food giant, the rumours of Herhsey’s interest have picked up since Kraft formalised their bid last week.

This time reports suggest Hershey, an iconic player in the US market, may be looking to Ferrero for assistance in making a purchase of Cadbury. A source familiar with the talks between the two companies told Reuters that discussions were “very preliminary, very early in the process.” It is believed that Hershey executives are particularly keen on such an arrangement but no bid has been tabled yet.

And, as if that wasn’t enough speculation for one night, reports continue to suggest Kraft is preparing a larger bid to present to Cadbury shareholders just prior to the acceptance deadline while Ferrero may be in talks with Cadbury in regard to a merger.

With the Cadbury board labelling the Kraft move as “derisory” it appears likely that shareholders will reject the American manufacturers offer and Italian newspaper reports indicate that the British confectioner may look to a merger with Ferrero as a further defence mechanism.

Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore said Ferrero, the Italian-owned maker of Ferrero Rocher and Nutella, could form a “friendly” alliance with Cadbury with the assistance of private equity players.

The companies were not commenting on the speculation last night.