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Kraft prepares to sweeten Cadbury bid

London, Jan. 3 (PTI): America’s Kraft Foods is likely to sweeten its hostile £10-billion takeover bid for British chocolate maker Cadbury, according to a media report.

“Irene Rosenfeld, chairperson and chief executive of Kraft Foods, will raise her offer in the next two weeks in a final attempt to persuade Cadbury shareholders to succumb to a bid,” The Sunday Times said.

Cadbury has rejected Kraft’s existing offer as “derisory” and “unappealing”.

Kraft will have to make a bid by January 19. It can then up its offer only if another suitor makes a rival bid.

Meanwhile, another American chocolate maker, Hershey, is working up a detailed plan for a rival offer for several weeks, but it is expected to wait to see the details of any improved offer from Kraft before making a move, the paper said.

“It (Hershey) may also wait for Cadbury to release critical trading information on January 15 as part of its defence against the Kraft bid,” the report added.

Cadbury chairman Roger Carr is expected to reject any bid from Hershey or Kraft unless it tops 800 pence a share. Cadbury shares closed at 797 pence on December 31 — 61 pence higher than Kraft’s offer.

Cadbury would prefer a tie-up with Hershey, a pure confectionery business, rather than being subsumed into Kraft — a company it describes as a low-growth conglomerate, the report said.

Meanwhile, Swiss food giant Nestle and Ferrero Group of Italy are also waiting in the wings and can still bid.

“Ferrero is thought to have met Hershey and private equity firms, KKR and Blackstone, to discuss a possible bid for Cadbury, but nothing firm has so far been agreed,” the daily said.

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