Cadbury on the Block: Will Consider any Serious Offer

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Cadbury on the Block: Will Consider any Serious Offer

LONDON -- Cadbury plc will consider any offer that gives a full value for the company, but until then, will not comment on a possible sale of the company, according to a recent report.

"We're focused on delivering value to shareholders as a standalone, pure-play confectioner," a Cadbury spokesman told Reuters. "However, we have always said that we would give proper consideration to any serious offer that delivers full value for the company. Unless and until we find ourselves in that situation, we have nothing to comment upon."

Earlier this week, The Hershey Co. and Italy's Ferrero announced they were considering their options regarding a bid for Cadbury after Kraft Foods Inc. launched a cash-and-shares $16.8 billion hostile bid last week for the British confectioner.

Hershey and Ferrero, the maker of Nutella chocolate spread, both said separately on Wednesday there could be no assurance that a proposal or offer for the British confectioner would emerge, Reuters reported.

Ferrero and Hershey did not hint they may be working together on a joint bid. Analysts and investors doubt the two could mount a bid to rival the hostile $16.2 billion cash-and-shares offer from Kraft. Ferrero-Hershey would have to fund the bid with debt rather than equity, because Ferrero is privately owned and Hershey is controlled by a charitable trust, the news service noted.

"It's not impossible, but we would be skeptical," analyst Alex Molloy of Credit Suisse, told Reuters.

"It's a very long shot, and we would be very surprised if they got involved," said one top 10 Cadbury investor.

"The Hershey Trust needs to ensure that it can meet its charitable purposes and protect its long-term income. It will probably act conservatively and won't want to see Hershey overpay and take on a lot of leverage for an acquisition," a lawyer at a top 10 London law firm told the news agency.

Traders speculated a break-up of Cadbury was a likely scenario if Hershey and Ferrero pressed ahead. "Ferrero would want Cadbury's European chocolate business, while Hershey could take the international operations," one trader was quoted as saying.

JP Morgan is advising Hershey and is likely to provide financing to support its client, while Rothschild is advising Ferrero, sources told Reuters.

Kraft has 28 days, or up to Dec. 7, to publish its official offer document, which will then trigger the 60-day bid timetable under U.K. takeover rules that would give Ferrero-Hershey until early February to come up with any rival bid for Cadbury, the report stated.

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