Cadbury maintains value, not bidder, the key to any successful takeover

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 1st December 2009

Cadbury has repeated that its board will look to get the best value for the UK confectioner’s shareholders after CEO Todd Stitzer praised potential bidder Hershey over the weekend.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Stitzer highlighted the “values” of the Hershey business, comparing the history of the US chocolate maker to Cadbury’s own Quaker origins.

The FT claimed that Stitzer had declared that Hershey would be a better fit with Cadbury than Kraft Foods, which has already lodged a bid – an offer the Dairy Milk labelled as “derisory” and rejected.

“Both companies were founded by men of principle and vision who created company towns and supported charitable causes…there is quite a lot of cultural similarity,” Stitzer told the FT. “I would prefer Cadbury to be in an environment where its values and principles could continue. I think there’s a worry that in a much larger, less focused organisation those values don’t get nurtured in the right way.”

And, in an apparent swipe at Kraft, Stitzer claimed the US food giant had changed the “spirit” at UK confectioner Terry’s, which Kraft bought in 1993.

“Ask the folk at Terry’s whether or not the spirit of the family that founded Terry’s is still alive…I think not,” Stitzer said.

When contacted by just-food today (30 November), a Cadbury spokesman confirmed Stitzer’s comments but declined to comment further – deciding to point to comments made by group chairman Roger Carr last weekend.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Carr had said: “Clearly, whilst some potential offerors are more aligned with our business model than others, it is the value of the offer rather than the source of the offer that is our priority.”

Hershey has yet to lodge a formal bid for Cadbury, although speculation is mounting over the US firm’s intentions.

Two weeks ago, Hershey confirmed an interest in Cadbury and said it was mulling a possible bid for the business. Since then, Hershey has kept its counsel, although the Wall Street Journal last week claimed the company had asked law makers in Pennsylvania to allow the company to potentially bid for Cadbury.

Hershey’s announcement of an interest in Cadbury was followed by an separate statement from Ferrero confirming the Italian confectioner was in the “preliminary stages of evaluating its options” on the Trident gum maker.

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