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September 25, 2009

US: Cadbury is not vital to us – Kraft CEO

Kraft Foods chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld has insisted a takeover of Cadbury is not vital to the US food giant.

Kraft Foods chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld has insisted a takeover of Cadbury is not vital to the US food giant.


Rosenfeld, who has spent most of the week in London discussing with investors the company’s proposed offer to buy Cadbury, yesterday (24 September) addressed Kraft employees in Northfield, Illinois, where the US food giant’s headquarters are located.


Kraft filed a transcript of the meeting with the US Securities and Exchange Commission today.


After a week in which Cadbury CEO Todd Stitzer was in the press spotlight over comments he made to an analyst conference in London, Rosenfeld only briefly touched on Kraft’s offer for the Dairy Milk maker.


However, she told employees that, while an acquisition of Cadbury would benefit Kraft, the US group would not look to buy the UK confectioner at any price.


“This is something we would like to do, not something that we have to do. And so we intend to remain disciplined in our actions,” she said.


Last week, Warren Buffett, the US billionaire with the largest shareholding in Kraft, said in an interview that Kraft had already offered a “full price”.


Buffett, who owns around 10% of Kraft, warned that, when looking to secure a takeover, that “the animal spirits run high”.


Rosenfeld, however, hinted Kraft would cautious in its dealings with Cadbury. “I can assure you we will avoid allowing those animal instincts that Warren Buffett alluded to take over,” she told the audience.


Kraft’s proposed offer for Cadbury, tabled almost three weeks ago, was a cash-and-share bid and Rosenfeld suggested the US group’s shares would continue to be a factor.


“As you’ve seen part of the proposed consideration in this proposal is the potential use of our stock. And so the performance of our stock in the coming weeks will be a key metric that investors of both companies will be following very closely,” she said.


Kraft’s shares have fallen by almost 6% since it announced its proposal to buy Cadbury, leading to a drop in the value of its proposed bid for the Trident gum owner.


Today, at 14:05 ET, Kraft’s stock had risen 0.7% to US$26.56. Cadbury’s shares closed up 0.7% at 800.5p.

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