Ferrero 'considering joining bid battle for Cadbury'

Italian chocolate group Ferrero is still considering joining the bid battle for Dairy Milk maker Cadbury, according to reports.

The firm behind Ferrero Rocher is understood to have reiterated its interest in Cadbury after the British chocolate giant set out its robust defence against a hostile offer from US rival Kraft earlier this month.

Italian newspaper La Stampa reported over the weekend that Ferrero had issued a statement confirming it was “still evaluating the possibility of acquiring the British sweets group”.

Family-owned Ferrero, which also makes Nutella spread and Tic Tacs, was not available for comment today, but has already previously said it was considering its options for Cadbury after Kraft first disclosed its takeover aims.

Cadbury is fighting a hostile takeover bid from Philadelphia and Toblerone firm Kraft, which has offered around €11.3bn to buy the group.

In a defence document issued in mid December, Cadbury accused Kraft of trying to buy it “on the cheap”.

It warned shareholders not to let Kraft “steal your company with its derisory offer” as it sought to underline its prospects as an independent company by upping long-term performance targets and saying profit margins for the current year were expected to be higher than original guidance.

As well as Ferrero, US firm Hershey is also said to be mulling over a move for Cadbury.

But any Hershey deal is widely expected to be a “white knight” offer to spoil a Kraft takeover and Cadbury is thought to have recently discussed the possibility of a friendly tie-up with Hershey.

The groups already have a business relationship as Hershey holds a licence to make Dairy Milk bars and Creme Eggs in the US.

Unless another bidder enters the fray, Cadbury shareholders have until January 5 to make up their minds on the Kraft bid – worth around 725p a share – with the whole process subject to a 60-day timetable under Takeover Panel rules.

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