Cadbury chief warns shareholders ‘don’t let Kraft steal your company’
Cadbury chairman Roger Carr yesterday urged shareholders not to let Kraft “steal” the British confectionery group as it reiterated its board’s unanimous rejection of the American food group’s GBP10.5 billion hostile offer.
In its second defence document against Kraft, which has been stalking the 186-year old British company since September, Roger Carr begged investors: “Don’t let Kraft steal your company with its derisory offer.”
He attacked Kraft’s management and its track record of “over-promising and under-delivering” and said: “We do not need to be subsumed into a lumbering, corporate monolith to achieve our aims.”
He added: “Kraft’s offer is even more unattractive today than it was when Kraft made its formal offer in December. Our 2009 performance is ahead of our previously upgraded expectations and we have excellent momentum going into 2010.”
Cadbury also revealed that its underlying revenues had grown by 5 per cent in 2009, with a 6 per cent rise in the second half of the financial year.The company’s trading profit margin rose to 13.5 per cent from 12 per cent.
Cadbury said that it expected its full-year dividend to grow 10 per cent on last year to 18p.
Shares in the UK company edged down in early trading today, losing 2p to 779p, but remaining above Kraft’s 757p-a-share offer for the business.
Cadbury made its impassioned plea to shareholders as it emerged that Irene Rosenfeld, the chairman and chief executive of Kraft, had been snubbed by two big institutional investors in Cadbury in an attempt to persuade them to accept a 757p offer for the UK group.
After the board of Cadbury rejected Kraft’s initial cash-and-share offer, the US group went “hostile”, which means that it is approaching shareholders directly to gain support for the takeover. Irene Rosenfeld will meet shareholders on today and tomorrow, and Kraft has until Tuesday next week to improve the terms of its offer.
Last week, Kraft raised US $3.7 billion (GBP 2.3 billion) by selling its pizza business.
Mr Stitzer said that Ms Rosenfeld and her management team at Kraft had a history of overpromising and underdelivering.
Since 2004, Cadbury revenues have grown more than 50 per cent faster than Kraft’s. The British group has grown a global confectionery share consistently every year since 2004 while over that same period Kraft lost share in four out of five of its major categories.
Meanwhile, Kraft shares were down by 42 per cent compared with its peers since it floated in June 2001.