Cadbury this afternoon (15 December) attacked predator Kraft Foods after the US food giant claimed the Dairy Milk maker was opening its shareholders to “significant risk”.

Kraft, which earlier last month launched a GBP10bn (US$16.25bn) hostile takeover bid for Cadbury, issued a statement this morning that questioned the UK firm’s defence of its future as an independent company.

Cadbury’s defence centred on a move to raise its sales, margins and dividend targets. Kraft questioned how the company could meet the loftier goals and insisted its bid would give better value to Cadbury investors.

However, in an increasingly bitter war of words, Cadbury poured scorn on Kraft’s statement.

“Kraft seem to have run out of ideas,” a spokesman told just-food. “Neither our shareholders nor the market as a whole seem to have had any problems understanding the detail in our business plan or the defence we presented yesterday.
“No smoke and mirrors will change the fact that Kraft’s offer remains derisory. We will continue to communicate directly with our shareholders about the significant value in their business as we have throughout this unwelcome approach.”

Cadbury has repeatedly attacked Kraft’s offer; speaking to reporters yesterday, chairman Roger Carr labelled the bid “derisory on a good day”.

The analyst community still broadly believes that Kraft will have to raise its offer to stand a chance of succeeding in its pursuit of Cadbury. Some analysts, however, have questioned whether the maker of Trident gum and Halls candy will meet its 2013 targets.

Speaking to just-food, a Kraft spokesman declined to comment directly on Cadbury’s charge that the business, which includes Milka and Cote d’Or chocolate, had “run out of ideas”.

Instead, the spokesman preferred to focus on Kraft’s track record of growing brands. “Kraft has had lots of success taking over brands, integrating them and investing in them,” the spokesman said. “There shouldn’t be any concern over Cadbury brands stagnating under Kraft.”

The spokesman added: “Terry’s Chocolate Orange and Lu biscuits are brands that [Kraft] has taken on and which remain strong and succesful brands in their own right – they have not stagnated under Kraft’s ownership.”

Shares in Cadbury were down 0.4% at 792p at 15:12 GMT this afternoon.