Kraft angers MPs with absentee CEO

Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft CEO and chairman, angered MPs by refusing to attend a select committee hearing about the company’s controversial takeover of Cadbury yesterday – for the third time this year.

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Kraft was accused of having “contempt” for Parliament by one member of the committee after the US company instead sent lower level staff to field backbenchers’ questions about its handling of last year’s £11.7bn acquisition.

The takeover led to hundreds of redundancies when Kraft closed a Cadbury factory last year.

Kraft refused to rule out further compulsory redundancies and said yesterday it is not guaranteeing staff contracts beyond 2012, putting thousands of Cadbury jobs at risk.

The company’s executives however said they thought the Cadbury brand can continue to be successful following the Kraft takeover.

David Ward, a Liberal Democrat and member of the business, innovation and skills select committee, said Rosenfeld’s absence from proceedings was “a slap in the face”.

The committee was left to question Marc Firestone, Kraft’s corporate affairs and legal director, Trevor Bond, president of markets Kraft Europe and the company’s UK chief Nick Bunker.

In a letter presented to the committee, Firestone accused MPs of demanding Rosenfeld to appear as a “star witness” in order for her to be insulted “with little or no attempt to discuss the facts and look rationally into the evidence”.

Committee chairman Adrian Bailey complained Rosenfeld needed to attend to be accountable for the “negative perception of the company”.

He added: “It is unacceptable that the chief executive of a major conglomerate is not prepared to come to answer questions to a Parliamentary select committee.”

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