Hank McKinnell, chairman and CEO of chemicals group Pfizer, said he was not aware that any bids had been received for the Adams mint and chewing gum subsidiary.

UK confectionery and soft drinks group Cadbury-Schweppes is hotly tipped to be finalising a bid after losing out on the sale of Hershey Foods last week. Cadbury had submitted a joint bid with Swiss giant Nestlé, which would in any case have been rejected in favour of a bid from US gum maker Wrigley had the sale of Hershey gone ahead.

Weekend newspapers reported that Cadbury was preparing a bid for Adams valued at £3bn (US$4.7bn) (just-food.com members click here to read more on this story). The group has repeatedly indicated its interests in ramping up its activities in the gum sector, and Adams’ Trident, Dentyne and Cloret brands are appealing.

Cadbury has so far declined to comment on a potential bid for Adams, but sources close to the situation said the company would be prepared to see its debt rating go down a few points to buy the unit. The group currently has £1.6bn of debt and a single-A rating.

Pfizer acquired Adams when it merged with Warner Lambert two years ago, and it was always likely to put it up for auction. The company said in June it was planning to auction off the unit, but once Hershey was put on the auction block, industry attention was diverted.

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