Fererro pull out of bidding for Cadbury

Ferrero have walked away from talks with Hershey over a joint bid for Cadbury, leaving Kraft as the main food giant looking to take over the UK’s leading chocolate brand.

The Italian giant pulled out of conversations with Hershey because its management decided joint ownership of Cadbury would not fit in with its long-term strategy. It follows months of speculation that a joint bid would be made by the Italian and US confectioners.

Kraft’s planned revised bid for a £10.2bn takeover is now the only known bid for Cadbury. It was initially made in December and has been ongoing since September.

Yesterday, Cadbury dismissed the bid as derisory and fundamentally unattractive

However, Kraft Foods chief executive and chairman Irene Rosenfeld, has strongly rebuffed this argument.

She says: “As we complete our turn-around, we’re delivering high-quality earnings growth, despite the difficult economic environment. As a result, we’re well positioned to deliver sustainable top-tier performance, with or without Cadbury.”

Business secretary Peter Mandelson is expected to add his weight to union calls for Cadbury shareholders to resist Kraft Foods’ bid.

Unite, Britain’s biggest trade union, said in a briefing note that nearly 30,000 jobs were at risk if the debt-laden Kraft wins, and urged Cadbury investors to put the wider public interest ahead of price.

It argues that Kraft’s ownership of Cadbury could put at risk 7,000 jobs directly and at least 20,000 more in the supply chain, and says Kraft has declined to give any assurances over jobs and investment.

Cadbury can still give more details on its 2009 results after Britain’s stock market closes on January 14, while Kraft has until January 19 to raise it bid, and Cadbury investors have until February 2 to respond to Kraft’s offer.

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