Blog: Dean BestKraft's Irene hits back

Dean Best | 1 June 2011

Kraft Foods' takeover of Cadbury - and the subsequent fall-out of the controversial acquisition - is the story that keeps on giving.

A few days after UK politicians last week handed down their latest verdict on the deal, up popped an interview on the Business Week site with Kraft chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld.

In the interview, Rosenfeld explained why she did not meet requests by a UK parliamentary committee to attend hearings into the sale of Cadbury. Despite two requests, Rosenfeld failed to appear - decisions described by the committee as "close to a contempt of the House".

Rosenfeld, however, told Business Week that she felt there was "no need" for her to attend the hearings.

"We had answered all their questions; there was no new information. We'd met with lawmakers and addressed these issues. I've spent a lot of time in the UK with the folks that really matter to me, employees and other constituents. Appearing before the panel was not the best use of my personal time," Rosenfeld said.

Her non-appearance and the committee's comments on her absence prompted some less than positive headlines for Rosenfeld and Kraft. The Kraft boss told Business Week she was "surprised by the extent of the coverage" and insisted that "public relations are critically important to Kraft".

However, she took a swipe at the media when she noted: "We need to be selective in addressing concerns. As we accomplish our objectives, a lot of concerns will fall away. There's been a lot of hype, and one of the challenges with the UK media is that they're not always accurate." [Shurley she wasn't referring to us? - ed]

And, towards the end of the interview, Rosenfeld raised eyebrows when she implied that her gender helped her take a longer-term view.

"At the end of the day, one of the strengths of women is our willingness to not get bogged down with political distractions and manage for the long term," she insisted.

UK politicians, its press and perhaps its senior male executives may be feeling suitably admonished by the sharp-tongued Kraft boss.

More to come....


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